Thursday, August 16, 2007

Two Degrees of Elvis

Okay, I never dreamed I'd be writing an Elvis post on the 30th anniversary of his death. I was only 9 when he died. That summer I got a new baby sister, Star Wars Episode IV came out in theaters, and there was more drama in my home over whether or not I'd be allowed to go to the movies to see a "PG" film. I remember hearing the news about Elvis' death, and my parents explained what happened. I do remember feeling sorry for his little girl.

But a couple of weeks ago, I learned an interesting tidbit. A 70-something-year-old Army retiree who attends my church was Elvis' First Sargeant when Elvis was at Fort Hood. The Fort Hood area is a melting pot, Army families comin' and goin', some staying until they retire, like Brother Mitchell. He shared that Elvis never liked to put on airs. When the officers' wives would call and demand that Elvis come and perform for this and that function, Elvis would never get on the phone to speak to them. He'd refuse to go. "No, First Sargeant. I won't do it."

He'd rather sit around strumming his guitar, singing with the NCO's. The regular people. He didn't forget where he came from. (Okay, when I heard this story, I first thought, "Holy cow, I know someone who knew Elvis!" I have to admit that much.)

So how does a handsome young man, full of gifts from God, with a world of promise in front of him, change to a tragedy splashed across the news, even 30 years later? I don't know. Too much fame, too fast? A church that rejected him? No mentor to guide his raw, vibrant energy that drew people to him? I've also heard in Elvis' final years, when he came to the end of the fame and fortune, he'd have one of his closest friends play hymns and gospel songs on the piano, to soothe his torn soul. Something--no, Someone--from his roots was calling to him.
We can only ignore the call for so long. I wonder if someone had tried to reach out to him, to say, "It's not about the fame or people's expectations. It's not about having money to burn and then some. It's not about getting religion, either. It's about knowing God, loving Him, and loving others."
On Monday night, I heard a woman speak. She's the director of a children's home in East Texas, and she admitted to the group she was having a hard time getting her thoughts together. One little girl kept interrupting.
So, she talked to the girl. "What would you tell these people?"
"I'd tell them that God loves them. Because that's all they really need to know." Simply spoken by a child.
But take it from that point on. God loves us enough to want to pull us out of the pits we find ourselves in. Even if they're pits of our own making. Even when we don't deserve it. Every morning we wake is another chance of mercy straight from Him. We still have another chance to do things over, to enjoy the love and companionship that no one on this earth can give us.
I never considered myself a fan, but, Elvis, I wish I could have met you to tell you that. The rest would have been up to you.


Rachel Hauck said...

Great post Lynette. I was 16 when he died. I remember it as being a sad, shocking time.

Elvis... so incredible, but so lost.


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