More courage

One of my favorite songs is sung in one of my favorite movies. In the 1997 film The Sweet Hereafter Sarah Polley sings the Tragically Hip song Courage. It’s a haunting movie, it is a haunting song, where Polley’s character is summoned to a moment of courage. In an almost existential manner this character becomes the embodiment of courage for a small community where defeat, hopelessness and surrender are becoming the norm. Without giving the plot away Polley’s truth both undermines the town’s thirst for a quick and needed infusion of cash and reminds everyone that speaking and living the authentic truth, regardless of its cost, is the essential quality of the human condition.

The key lyrics of this special song are stuck in my mind:

There's no simple
For anything important
Any of us do
And, yeah, the human
Consists in
The necessity
Of living with
The consequences
Under pressure, under pressure
It couldn't come at a worse time
It couldn't come at a worse time

Some people say character is what you do when no one is looking. I say courage is what you are when it couldn’t come at a worse time. I remember asking a previous organist and choir director if the choir could sing this song at a Good Friday service. I think she saved my bacon, being the new minister and all, when she reminded me that some of the lyrics, not included in this blog, could prove problematic for a congregation attending church on one of its most Holy days. Thank you Gina! Still, the notion that Jesus would show courage at a moment he most certainly knew would result in his death meant his act of love could not have come at a worse time.

When the Tragically Hip, the authors of this song, announced their 2016 tour many of us Hip fans were very excited. But when it was revealed that lead singer Gord Downie had terminal cancer we all assumed the tour would be cancelled, that we would never see the band perform live again. But the band and Downie had other ideas, courage came to the lead singer. His cancer could not have come at a worse time. 52 years old, my age, at the top of his game as a singer, song writer, poet, Downie in the prime of his life, could do anything his limitless talent could create. But chance will not permit this. And into this period of facing his death Downie has chosen to play a series of concerts. Hearing him tonight, his last concert, it is obvious how hard this tour has been on his body, his voice and his mind. I am grateful for his courage. Watching Downie is an inspiration for all those who face their mortality. Courage.