They say it’s God who made the angels
From infinity and sand
But if Heaven made the angels
Who in hell made man?
If God could make angels
If God could make angels
…Why in hell make man?
©David Knopfler, “If God Could Make the Angels” from Wishbones, 2002
I was standing by the table where David Knopfler was autographing CD’s, still more than a little bemused by the music, when I heard a voice say, “Sign it ‘to Denise, thank you for waking Jim up.’”
There wasn’t enough blank space on the CD Jim had chosen for David to write all of that, so they settled on ‘for Denise.”
After two hours of listening to David’s master storytelling in song and commentary, my sense of story was on high alert. But anyone with any feeling for romance would have heard the story in that simple request.
“You must be Jim.” The words were out of my mouth before I knew I was going to speak. One doesn’t usually disrupt an artist when he’s meeting his fans, but that story caught at me the way your attention is snagged by someone screaming your name in a crowded room. Of course he was Jim, and we chatted a bit. I asked if he would like for me to take his picture with David and he lit up again, beckoning to a woman sitting quietly at a table in the back of the room. “I want to get her in the picture,” he explained.
This, I realized, would be Denise. The women who woke Jim up from wherever he had been into this present state of knowing, of gratitude, and of being fully present in his life and in the world.
“I don’t like to think what would have happened to me if she hadn’t …” His voice cracked and trailed away.
“Let’s not think about that,” I said, as his love and salvation made her way toward the stage and the line waiting for David’s signature. “Let’s just celebrate that it didn’t happen.”
Because that’s the real story for all of us, isn’t it? Not the nightmare we wake up from, but the life we wake up to. Being shown, or showing someone else, the horror of the place we’ve gotten stuck in isn’t what wakes anyone up. When we’re stuck in the nightmare we think that is the dream. Only when we get a glimpse of heaven are we willing to risk leaving hell.
I shot the picture, the three of them together – David, Denise, and Jim. David was patient and kind although I knew he had to be weary, this was the last date of the tour and he had to load out still that night. I emailed it, at Jim’s request, to Denise, knowing it wasn’t likely we’d ever meet again, but also knowing it wasn’t likely that I would ever forget the way Jim’s head tilted toward his bride even though he was standing beside the celebrity they’d come to see.
I had expected story, after all we’d traveled from St. Louis to Cleveland to see David play just because I loved the stories in his music. But I could never have expected that story.
I also hadn’t expected that David would play one of my favorites of his songs, because it’s driven by the piano, and I was pretty sure he wasn’t traveling with one of those. But the NightTown had a very nice piano waiting for him, so he decided to give us “If God Could Make the Angels.”
The story Jim told, using almost no words at all, was one of the subtle and infinite power of true love. And it answer the question posed in that song, “If God could make angels … Why in hell make man?”
Angels don’t have nightmares. They don’t need to be woken up to a reality of a dream come true. But man, ah man creates stories angels can’t even imagine. And in every one of those stories is the pattern of divine love, if you listen for it.
Jim, thank you for waking up. For lighting up. For sharing the love that keeps you awake and alive and alight. And Denise, it’s clear you are Jim’s angel. Thank you for waking him up to the reality that is love.
Photo: Flickr/Bill Benzon