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The Maker

Last weekend I preached on Isaiah 2 and focused on the theme of exile—what it means, what it looks like in (post)modern life, and the shape of the hope that emerges out of it.  Today, a friend directed my attention to a song  called “The Maker” (written by Daniel Lanois, performed by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds) that he felt reflected some of the themes of the sermon.  I’d never heard the song before, but I was blown away (you can have a listen here, with a bit of navigation—just select the “Live at Radio City” album and click on the song).  I think it beautifully expresses the great hope for all the estranged, alienated, lost and lonely inhabitants of postmodernity—we are not strangers in the hands of the Maker.

Oh, oh deep water, black and cold like the night
I stand with arms wide open
I’ve run a twisted line
I’m a stranger in the eyes of the Maker
And I could not see for the fog in my eyes
I could not feel for the fear in my life

From across the great divide
In the distance I saw the light
Of John Baptist walking to me with the Maker
My body is bent and broken by long and dangerous sleep
I can’t work the fields of Abraham and turn my head away
I’m not a stranger in the hands of the Maker

Brother John, have you seen the homeless daughters
Standing there with broken wings
I have seen the flaming sword
There over east of Eden
Burning in the eyes of the Maker
Burning in the eyes of the Maker
Burning in the eyes of the Maker

Oh, river rise from your sleep
Oh, river rise from your sleep
Oh, river rise from your sleep

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ken #

    I am wondering: how did you happen to choose those verses in Isaiah? Are they verses that have had much meaning to you over a long period of time, or did they just recently stand out to you?

    For a couple of years, maybe three, I have been hiking with Isaiah 2:2-3a (through “walk in his paths.”) I mean that I have meditated on them for many miles and hours.

    A few hours ago I called a couple of friends and said “hey, lets climb Landell tomorrow.” It is a jagged peak capped by a pile of granite boulders that stand a little more than two hundred feet high. There are no paths that lead to it, no easy route to the top of the rocks.

    People hike and climb mountains for many reasons. I do it for religious reasons. I do it as a kind of search for or way of connecting with God. That means that when I say, “let’s climb Landell tomorrow,” at some deep level I am saying “let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord tomorrow.” It is kind of like stepping into those latter days that Isaiah wrote about.

    I often leave the paths when I hike. That the mountain of the Lord has paths means perhaps that it is an easy hike because hiking on a path is so much easier than traveling off trail. So I have found myself wondering about this. Perhaps that seems like nonsense. I do suspect that Isaiah had something more political in mind. But I keep thinking about that mountain that is “higher than all these hills.” I am not thinking metaphorically like in your sermon, or like Isaiah was probably thinking. I am thinking in a very concrete way. The “hills” where I hike are quite grand mountains, high as where the air thins out. That mountain of the Lord must be quite grand indeed.

    Like all other meditations, this lectio divina leads me into prayer and then just into silence somewhere on the steep side or top of a mountain. I learn nothing from this – no moral, no greater truth – unless the way of the Lord is not found in a moral or greater truth but as the monks say, “in nothingness.” For a while I am in the latter days, for a while I am on that highest mountain of which Isaiah wrote.

    May 29, 2009
    • I wish I could say I chose Isaiah 2 for profound reasons such as yours, but the simple reason is that our church is doing a sermon series on Isaiah. Isaiah 2 stood out mainly for verses 2-5. I’m always drawn to hopeful passages like this, I suppose.

      I think mountains are hugely significant in the biblical story partly for the reasons you describe so well. There is a connection with the divine that can take place there that cannot be manufactured elsewhere. Is there a different kind of clarity or insight that comes from higher vantage points? Is there something that is won only through the struggle of ascent? Are these places more conducive to realizing some kind of singularity or “nothingness?” Maybe it’s because mountains are dangerous and unpredictable places, and because scaling their heights is simultaneously demanding and hugely rewarding… I don’t know.

      Thanks for sharing your insights. Have a good day on the mountain of the Lord.

      May 30, 2009

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