I set out to rule the world
with only a paper shield and a wooden sword.
No mountain dare stand in my way,
even the oceans tremble in my wake.
The tide is brave, but always retreats.
even the sand, it cowers under my feet.
My kingdom towers above it all,
while I sleep safe and sound in my cardboard walls.
Now I bear little resemblance to the king I once
I bear little resemblance to the king I could become.
Maybe paper is paper, maybe kids will be kids-
Lord, I want to remember how to feel like I did.
– East, by Sleeping At Last
In honour of the “Summer Songs/Scripts” series, I thought I’d squeeze in one last “song inspiration”. East is one of my absolute favourite songs. Musically, it’s a beautiful, sensory journey ranging from wistful to triumphant before slowly winding down to something in between. Lyrically, it’s a masterpiece of expression – possibility, hope, triumph and fearlessness as well as disillusionment, loss, regret and confusion are all so beautifully captured…without using any of those words. Every time I hear the song, my spirit resonates in sympathy to the yearning in these words.
This song is all about trying to recapture that limitless hope/joy/power/faith of youth; that feeling of indestructibility, of being in charge, master of your own fate and world… But 20, 30, 40 years on and that feeling of limitless possibility has slowly eroded away, the grit of glittery dreams now just bitter dust in the throat.
Kings? Princesses? We have come to realise that we can’t even master our own bodies, let alone control the fate of a kingdom. A world that once shone with rainbow colours is now veiled with shades of black and grey.
This is often referred to as “growing up”. Belief in the unattainable is the hallmark of youth. Maturity is often equated with accepting what is and isn’t possible…and the scales tend to lean heavier on the side of “isn’t” with each passing year.
Yet the song doesn’t rest on this bleak outlook of life; in fact, it is in essence a cry for hope.
“But Lord, I want to remember how to feel like I did.”
What I love most about this song is the implicit feeling that somehow, it is possible to recapture that freedom and power felt as a child. It came as no surprise to me to find out that the band has Christian roots. In a world that is broken, unfair, negligent, Jesus brings the power of rebirth and freedom every day. He is the unquashable source of hope and joy. He invites us to step out of our fragile, little paper kingdoms into His glorious, living one that will never fade away. But to do so, we need the heart of the child, the purity of possibility that only comes with complete, whole-hearted trust.
“I’m telling you once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in.” (Matt. 18:3, The Message)
So go back, brush off those childhood dreams and remember the joy they gave. I think you’ll find Jesus was there all along, waiting patiently for the day when you would realise that that joy is a building block within His kingdom.