That Thursday night I played at a Mennonite church in Evanston, a suburb just north of the city. They were hosting an event for folks peace-walking from Madison, WI to Chicago (a 180-mile distance!) The organizer welcomed me to play a few of my Protest Songs for them. After seeing their passion for peace and justice and hearing their stories, I decided to also join them the next morning for the remaining 7-mile walk into the city. I brought my guitar.
I spent much of my time that weekend marching up and down the bustling Chicago streets for the NATO protests, trying to learn the lyrics to that Dylan song I'd recently been reminded of. It was empowering to sing, over and over:
Oh the foes will rise with the sleep still in their eyes
And they'll jerk from their beds and think they're dreamin'.
Then they'll pinch themselves and squeal and they'll know that it's for real
The hour that the ship comes in.
And they'll raise their hands saying "We'll meet all your demands"
But we'll shout from the bow, "YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED!"
And like Pharoah's tribe they'll be drowned in the tide
And like Goliath they'll be conquered!
Finally I played the song in concert at my tour finale show this past Thursday night. It was the closing song for my set at Word Up community bookstore in Washington Heights. I was able to pull through it pretty well and even gave a bit of a diatribe before the last verse, summarizing this very blog post.
You see, Dylan sang that song in resistance to the Goliaths of his day. And whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, there are still bigger Goliaths today who do crueler, crueler things. I used to regret that I had grown up in this age and not in, say, the sixties. But I've come to see that I have a very special place in this, my own time. Twenty-first century post-modern America. New York City. Washington Heights. I will continue to resist and stand against the Goliaths of our day, to occupy my own life and that of my neighborhood, to join God in the renewal of all things.
To be quite honest, I have a good bit of uncertainty regarding my immediate and distant future, but if there's one thing about which I'm confident: in the hour that the ship comes in, with all it's triumph and glory, I'll be riding high, heralding its charge with song.