Wednesday, August 25, 2004

How Prophetic Was This?

I wrote this September 1st, 2003. Johnny Cash passed away on September 12, 2003.....

I saw Johnny Cash’s video today called simply, “Hurt”. It is brilliant, dark and so very sad.

This is a man without his compass, without his very breath, forced to continue living. I had only read about Johnny and June Carter Cash incidentally, in Christian biographies of other people, one of which is another aged giant, Billy Graham. They caught my imagination. I loved June Carter Cash and came to be more interested in her when she played a major part in Robert Duval’s movie, “The Apostle”. I knew she and Johnny were strong Christians and that alone drew me to see how they handled fame. There is a deeper dimension to a person who believes in Jesus Christ, there is a vibration in their spirit that transcends the limits of human life….you can see it in their eyes, you can hear it in their words; it’s like the smoke signals of the Holy Spirit. Another like spirit can read the signals and know the message, and there is instant familiarity that neither fame or death or distance can inhibit.

That’s the Christian aspect of June and Johnny Cash. But their real and unfettered personalities, based in their Southern upbringing, also drew me. The music is secondary, it’s the soul that matters. The music they made was just the expression of their souls anyway.

I knew June was the daughter of the great Carter family of Country Music legend, one of the pioneers of the genre. I love Country Music, the real stuff, that echoes of England and Ireland and the stark lives of the Appalachian settlers. It speaks of their faith; songs like “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” by June Carter’s mother, “I’ll Fly Away”, and “On the Wings of a Snow White Dove”, sung by Robert Duval in the movie, “Tender Mercies.” These are the tunes, sung for perhaps hundreds of years in one form or another, plucked on homemade instruments on the front porch of a rickety cabin on the side of a foggy, lonely mountain in the middle of the Appalachians.

This, and reading about their legendary love, how June saved Johnny from drug and alcohol addiction, how she led him to Christianity; told me that when I heard she had passed away, he would wither away, unable to bear the searing pain of her loss.

I’m thinking he won’t be with us much longer. Right now I understand he is working like a demon, compiling songs that have never been released that he and June did together. Perhaps this video is a cathartic of sorts…….

The video has quick shots of Johnny as a young, vital man, the monolithic “Man in Black”, battling his inner demons, comforted by the love of June. Johnny visits his birthplace, but the man who visits the simple, old house is still a young man himself, strong and tall, striding long, wide-shouldered. And like all of us eventually, he is now alone, his body a betrayer, no longer a reflection of his true spirit, something to be discarded and thrown away. How sad he is that she has left first, left him in this God-forsaken place alone.

There is something unspeakably tragic about the spoiled beauty of youth, the slow degeneration, the brilliant eyes and smooth skin becoming clouded and mottled; the easy strength of arms and back, lithe and quick, now bent and shuffling, slow. The eyes tell it – youth is hopeful, confident, beautiful. “There’s so much time…..” we think, and we blink and we’re so very much older.

The comfort a believer in Jesus Christ has, is eternity. These bodies, illusions of life, are shed, to sink back into the earth, and they are traded for a body that lasts forever. One that won’t get old and broken. And those we love who have gone before, like June before Johnny – they are waiting to welcome us when we come to join them. And then there will be no more of this darkness, this searing anguish called life…..and death.

If you wish to see Johnny Cash’s award winning video, here is a website where you can view it:


Post a Comment

<< Home