Thursday, February 16, 2012

Never Mind Innocence, It's About Incompetance.

Whitney Houston singing a rather ragged version of 'Yes Jesus Loves Me' at a party just hours before her death, brought back to memory a similarly tragic scenario at Zac's Place just a few years ago. Julie was no Hollywood star though, she was penniless and slept rough - hers was a life that had also descended into chaos and chemical dependancy. As she wrestled with her demons, not under the gaze of paperazzi, but local hacks filling space about stories of 'worthless junkies', she too recalled the words of the old sunday school song her father used to sing her to sleep to. Just a few days before she died on the streets of the city we live in, she bellowed them out, in one of our gatherings after her ravaged feet had been bathed by friends that cared deeply for her.

Julie and Whitney could not be more different, but it would appear that there was also plenty of common ground. Not least of all, an underlying recollection that no matter how messy it has all got - maybe, just maybe, this Jesus could still possibly be a friend that would stick around. Despite the heartache, the pain and the struggle somehow there was a fragment of fragile faith intact enough to hold on to the faintest hope, that there was someone who still loved them, regardless.

The day after Houston's death, Bruce Springsteen kicked off the Grammy awards, where she would have been present, with his anthemic new track 'We take care of our own'. Everything about it can seem triumphalistic, but with a deeper look into the lyric, the irony becomes apparent with typical Springsteen insight. We say we take care of our own, but when it comes down to it, we too often don't. We do when it suits us. As long as it doesn't cost us any money, time or emotions. Houston was devoured by a music industry that went onto to feed on fresh meat and will continue to have scant regard for anything other than the dollars. Julie lie dead on the city streets as pedestrians passed on by, as a result of trying to numb the pain of way too many trauma's.

The beauty and the tragedy of this simple but beautiful old hymn, "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know" is in it's origins. It began as tender words in novel I believe, written to comfort a dying child. I can't also help hearing the Saviours words encouraging us to embrace his love - not qualified by our innocence, but our fragile incompetance. We do continue indeed to be weak; but He is strong. Here indeed is the "love that has not forsaken me" that Springsteen calls for.

Jesus loves me! This I know,

For the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong;

They are weak, but He is strong.

Big Issue Article on Julie and Homelessness in Swansea.

Whitney Houston - Not the last performance, but an earlier more complete recording of Jesus Loves Me.

Bruce Springsteen - We Take Care Of Our Own