• Wayne Perkins

Hallelujah, you’re home

Unless you have been living under a rock you will know that everybody’s favourite “Ed” is in New Zealand and this weekend has been playing three concerts in Dunedin.

I am a latecomer to Ed’s music and had never really listened to it until a few weeks ago when I was forced (forced is a strong word, let’s go with encouraged) to spend 4 hours in a car listening to one of his CD’s and I am not ashamed to admit that I have become somewhat of a fan.

Now I like manufactured commercial music about as much as I like having my testicles run through a bacon slicer and my favourite singers and songs are always those that aren’t pretty and aren’t perfect.

To me, real beauty is only found in authenticity, regardless of what the prevailing wind of change that sweep our often-fickle culture try to tell us.

Like Dylan, Cohen and McGowan, Ed seems to have torn off the mask that most wear and allowed his imperfection to imbue itself into the songs.

I wonder if that’s why he is so wildly popular in a culture where, a strong jawline, high cheek bones or fake boobs can get you to number one in the charts, people have been starving for someone to reveal their basic humanity.

I didn’t go to Ed’s concert and I’m now feeling a little left out, to be honest, but I did experience a “Sheeran” moment that for me was every bit as real as a live performance.

A friend passed away and her funeral was last week.

Like all funerals it was hellishly emotional and if you want to see authenticity you will most often find it when the people who loved them the most tell their stories and, with all pretence stripped and their souls laid bare, say how they really feel.

I recently wrote a blog called “A boot full of Groceries” where I told a little about my friend and unbeknown to me her daughter read it to her before she passed away.

When you create something, a song, a painting, a sculpture or in my case a simple blog, all you ever really hope for is that it will mean something to someone and for a brief moment, as some of my simple and inelegant words were read at the funeral by her daughter, I was genuinely humbled and touched.

As the celebration of her life came to an end and the coffin was carried to the hearse, Ed’s song “Supermarket Flowers” was played and as I stood there, lost as all hell, with the tears flowing freely down my cheeks, watching her family carry the coffin to the hearse, I felt the dreadful finality of our human existence.

It’s now Easter and thoughts swing to another scene because, just like the family who were mourning the loss of a loved one last week, a few thousand years ago another family were mourning the death of a son, brother and friend as his wrecked and battered body hung there for all the world to see.

Now in all probability I expect you have very little time for the Easter story of a dying God and you may consider him a man, myth or something much worse and whatever view you hold is none of my business.

But to me it’s a story of hope and it shows that, regardless of how hopeless life looks, there are some things that are divine and they transcend not just life but death as well.

As I think of Christ dying on a cross, I am reminded of how unfair this world seems to be and I think of my friend and grieve.

But when I thought of the faiths of the world and how everybody thinks they know how the game of life works, I wondered, rather than the words of a million theologians all saying different things, if there might actually be as much genuine truth in the last line from “Supermarket Flowers” that was played at my friend’s funeral.

“When God took you back he said, Hallelujah, you’re home”.

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