The 50th Anniversary Edition of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass has been lingering in my excited expectation for weeks and is finally here.
As I prepared for its arrival I was listening to the original, the 2000 remasters and The Concert For Bangladesh as well as reading the brand new book about it all - All Things Must Pass Away and Other Assorted Love Songs.
I have been needlessly drawn to the spiritual musings of Harrison’s eastern faith and always trying to caress them with my Jesus faith.
Beware of Darkness caught my soul afresh. I have been listening to these songs since I finally found the album in a shop on Cockburn Street in Edinburgh on my family summer holidays of 1980 and have loved this song and even the covers by Leon Russell, Sheryl Crow and Norah Jones. Yet, I heard it deeper this past few weeks.
I believe, as Harrison’s wife Olivia has said, that George was preaching to himself as much as any of us. Here was a man who had lived at the very zenith of pop stardom for some 7 years and was about to become the biggest star of 1971 attempting some kind of Hare Krishna holiness in the middle of unimaginable wealth and hedonistic temptation.
He warns us to be alert to wealth and power and takes it from outside to within.
Watch out now, take care
Beware of the thoughts that linger
Winding up inside your head
The hopelessness around you
In the dead of night
Beware of sadness
I was particularly interested in his reasoning why. Too often in the traditional Christian idea of temptation or sin it is all about breaking some rule concocted my some headmaster type God. Harrison gets closer to the truth. Beware of these things because they are a hurdle to us finding our full human potential. George might have called that perfect consciousness. I would call it the “life and all its fulness” that Jesus invites us into. That is what a God of love wants for us. Fulfilment of our humanity that he created and redeemed.
It can hit you
It can hurt you
Make you sore and what is more
That is not what you are here for
What we are here for? That is my reason for following Jesus. It is not about some ethereal otherworldliness. It is the opposite. I follow Jesus to make the most sense of can of the world and my fulfilled place within it.
As I tried to find the caressing of Beware Of Darkness with my own pilgrimage I happened to be reading Guard My Heart by Sue Divin. A wonderful novel set as a modern Romeo and Juliet story in Derry/Londonderry/Doire, the title comes from one of the Scripture’s Proverbs - 4:23.
Catholic Aidan’s mother used to tell him, in Irish, “Guard your heart for it is the well spring of life.” The novel is about two young people trying to do exactly that in a world very different to George Harrison’s but just as complex to spiritually navigate.
Proverbs 4:23 is a very good paraphrase of Beware of Darkness. It’s a world of sectarian darkness that could so easily envelope Aidan and Iona in Divin’s book. If these two 18 year olds are to discover themselves, push themselves to the next chapter in the story of who they can be they would do well to beware of the darkness of, and guard their hearts from, our wee island’s prejudiced hatreds?
And me? I am no wealthy pop star. I am, sadly, no 18 year old just finding my way but Harrison’s song has me alerting myself to the seductions of a society offering all kinds of glittery things than could drag me well away from what I am here for.