Being There

Johnny Cash and Russ Taff have trembling, earth-shaking voices. So when they sing “Were You There?” – the Good Friday-through-Easter spiritual – you can’t help but tremble and shout alongside them.

But my daughter has been singing it recently. She doesn’t have the gravitas of voice, of course. She’s only three, so her little high, girlish falsetto hasn’t begun to develop, much less into something that she could know how to control.
But it’s the fact that it’s her, my little mortal princess, my darling, the little girl who comes to sleep with us in the middle of every night. This little girl who we sometimes struggle with to get her to take her three-times daily life-saving treatments. This little one who, today, I figured wears full-body pajamas that have as much cotton as my t-shirts. It’s the fact that it’s her whom I touch and hold and gives me besos and huggies that sings these lines that makes this song immediate and tangible and transcendent for me.
It’s her that embodies something very close and personal and wonderful and scary about the rhythms of life and death and life again in ways that are new and earth-shattering for me.

Somehow, though she doesn’t quite understand the gravitas of the two thousand year old mystery of the death and resurrection of a Jewish prophet/homeless teacher, man/God, she conveys it to me in simply profound, understated, and relational ways.

Thank you, Jesus.
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