Piano and Hammond neatly rested in the center of the place of worship. The choir left, it is late and all the eyes can make out in the smooth blue night light are the shapes of the instruments. Then the rhythmic sound of sweeping is heard. A middle aged man with a broom taking care of the holy place. You hear his singing, probably because the acoustics make his voice grander in the hall, but some notes are rough, still, a passionate heart beating behind them is heard. Just a humble servant taking care of temple.
‚All the street lights, glowing
Happen to be just like moments, passing
In front of me, so I hopped in the cab and
I paid my fare, see I know the destination..‘
A blink of the eye and the man is joined by a piano glistening with the stars in his best language furthermore, while the Hammond enriches the depth of the moment with its warm pipes. The servant is singing, supported discreetly by a brother embellishing around his melody. He sings these lines over and over, It is a raw, emotional, honest without shame and pride. Offering himself to Him.
I wouldn’t encounter this song until I heard Daniel Ceasars‘ rendition many years later, wondering who could write such a song that fit perfectly to my view on life back then. A song about being too slow for the world, fearful of not being able to grow and mature, uncertain of the future. All these memories I had, the heartbreaking and uplifting, passed me by too quickly. It was this rendition that I listened to most of the time where I didn’t know what God planned and where He took me. Little lights of memorable moments and in between and front of me. Where does this road go? Why is it so dark between the lights? Why am I moving too fast? One moment led to the next, not ever grasping the full context. I remember multiple walks home late at night in the cold air while listening, contemplating, trying to make sense of it all. It became a special song to me.
As I found out who really wrote Streetlights, and on which album it appeared on, it took me back to the time as a ten year old kid when I was playing songs out of 808s and Heartbeaks from my PSP. When having a sleepover at my cousins place was a rare gift that was only granted on seldom occasions, in turn fully living out every second I was there. The album just came out, and my older cousin, which I will forever be grateful to have been influenced and defined by in terms of music, was playing it on repeat, having listening sessions with us. But we only let the hard hitting beats on the album play, skipping the songs that were more subtle and slow. Streetlights was never part of the memory. Welcome to Heartbreak, Amazing, Robocop, Heartless and Love Lockdown were the most prominent songs and the ones that were loaded on my PSP. It was the start of a new world to explore for a ten year old filipino-german kid, back then, when everything was new.
Now almost eleven years later, after this album helped shape an entire generation of new rappers, after witnessing a whole lot of mistakes, stage crashes, red hats, and mental breakdowns, women over women- after self harming thoughts and constant self judging, after years of crippling self confidence and convinced insignificance, after finding street lights –
I sat there, looking at him sing it, expecting the last line to be
‚But I’m just not there‘
Yet, I heard,
‚God took me there.‘
The questioning turned into answering, the suffering turned into healing, the sinning into redeeming. From a self-proclaimed god to a humble worshipper. From a kid with no meaning to a man of purpose. The ego and the self-critic came to the same truth, the only way out of our search for purpose and fulfillment. And in that holy place, dimly lit by blue lights, with the piano and the Hammond playing, with the servant holding the broom singing, I was singing with him. In awe of that one changed lyric, applied to my life once again and on the deepest level. We both looked back at the street lights, in the presence of this truth, and this love and it all made sense. This answer.
JESUS IS KING.