Spirits of the Red City
A man sat on the couch between the stage and me on Thursday. He was an unnerving character, black suspenders superseded only by a black vest, wild curly hair that crept about his face in lupine fashion, and the silvery pommel of a dirk protruding from a sheath upon his belt line. Yet I recall that I saw him in tears at one point. Despite his former saunter about the room, his mildly roguish appearance, he had wept quietly as the band had played. The rest of the time, he was given to a trance-like regimen of dancing in his seat, eyes closed, lost in the music of the Spirits of the Red City.
I've known a few places and times in my life where I felt that I glimpsed the wild side of the Holy Ghost. We now say 'Spirit,' I suppose because 'Ghost' is a little too flesh-and-blood, so to speak. It is a word closer to the sticks and stones that break our bones than to the words that never hurt us. But, like all ghosts, the Holy Ghost is one for whom we are totally unprepared when he (she?) comes. Chains rattle, and often come off. Doors open and shut. People speak outside their mother tongues.
I often get the feeling that, everywhere there is beauty - and I've not found a place that is exempt from that - the Lord is there. The Holy Spirit moves in the dried-up Windsor tie ritual of a Sunday morning meeting and in the weeping of the execution chambers. She is always whispering, like the sound of wings. Is it the ritual of Sunday that calls her? Certainly not. It is the need of those who are garbed in the robes of death, be they expensive woolen affairs or numbered orange jumpsuits. For that is the Will of the Father: to, as the hymn says, "Rescue the perishing, care for the dying. Jesus is merciful; Jesus will save."
Unaccountably, the Lord speaks in untold ways to those who will listen to no others. The people who believe in traditional niceties will probably have to meet a John the Baptist who eats bugs and looks like Jeremiah Johnson. The congregation that is comfortable in the rote litany of drunkenness will be more apt to attend a tent revival that they don't see coming.
The sound in Morelock Music crescendoed into a unified living wall of cello, guitar, pump organ, flugelhorn, and voices. Oh, those voices! A gypsy lament skirting past the moon will raise the hair on your neck, and catch your ear with a shadow of beauty as it bends round a star. Underneath the lights on the stage, the band unearthed their hearts and poured them into the microphones. Everybody listened, lost in the music, and hopefully someone was a little more Found than when they came in that evening.
I'm glad to see the occasional glimpse of unity strewn about the culture. It's a blessing to see the toughest crowd weep over beauty. I don't know where the Spirit comes from or where she's going, but it's good - unnerving, but good - to see icons of the Lord of Creation in places where I least expect them.