#33 Come on Rise Up
I just got home from one of my favorite nights of the year. The night that my family goes to see Bruce Springsteen play in the Meadowlands. I should back track. See, I’ve always tied Springsteen into my faith in a really deep way, because Springsteen has always been deeply tied in to my family, and my family has always been deeply tied in to my faith. Therefore, Springsteen has always been tied in to my faith.
And it’s actually not that hard a jump to make. The fact of the matter is, I actually use Darkness On The Edge of Town in order to center myself and meditate. I mean, “Badlands” alone is enough for deep prayer:
I believe in the love, that you gave me
I believe in the faith, that can save
I believe and I hope that one day it may raise me
Above these Badlands.
He didn’t play “Badlands” tonight, but it was an exceptionally spiritual night, even for a Springsteen concert, because this tour, The Wrecking Ball tour, is a little bit haunted. See, Clarence Clemmons, the long time saxophone player for The E Street Band passed this summer and this is the first time the band is playing without him.
Aside from The Boss (a name given him by Clarence) himself, The Big Man was the constant in these shows. Even when the band broke up for about fifteen years, Clarence continued to play and tour with Bruce, the second most iconic image of Springsteen (You know after the one of his behind and the flag) is of him whispering and laughing in Clarence’s ear on the cove of Born to Run.
Early in the evening, they played “My City of Ruins” off of The Rising. The song was written about Asbury Park, and has come to be associated with September 11, but tonight it took on a whole new meaning. Halfway through, Bruce paused to thank the band (as he usually does a few songs in) and at the end, he practically whispered into the mic:
“And is there anybody missing tonight?”
The crowd began to chant Clarence’s name and Bruce was near tears. It was stunning. You could feel Clarence hovering over the crowd. The night ended with “10th Avenue Freeze Out” a song about the way the two friends met, and again, in the middle we paused to honor The Big Man.
What does this have to do with Catholicism? I’m not sure, but it all feels the same to me. I felt as fulfilled as I do when I leave Church as I did when I walked out of the IZOD center tonight. It’s a deep community, being a Bruce fan, and feeling that much of a connection to someone who passed, someone, who I never knew, but who touched me so very deeply through his art meant the world to me.
We talk about “The Communion of Saints” in the creed, and again, my family based faith comes into play here, but I truly believe that it doesn’t just mean the canonized Saints of the Church, but all of those who have joined in Christ. I felt the presence of Clarence as a “saint” tonight, and it moved me, the way it used to move me when I heard him play his saxophone.
So I leave you, this early morning, with the words that brought me to tears earlier:
Now with these hands,
I pray Lord,
With these hands,
I pray for the faith, Lord
With these hand,
I pray for you strength Lord,
With these hands,
I pray for your love, Lord
With these hands
Come on rise up….