The Great Unknown

Some years ago now, as I was getting ready for yet another day, a breakfast television interview caught my attention. Lisa Marie Presley was discussing her relationship with music, her fight with drug addiction and her fondest memories of her father, the music icon Elvis Presley.

Since Lisa Marie was born around the same time as I, and my father was born the same year as Elvis, I couldn’t but think how blessed I have been to have had my father for this long.

I have a vivid memory from my childhood, where mum, my younger brother and I had walked to our local shopping centre. My brother and I were standing there waiting for our mum, when my eyes were drawn to a kiosk newspaper heading: “ROKIN KUNINGAS ELVIS PRESLEY ON KUOLLUT” (The King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley has died). I knew of Elvis, because my older brother was a fan of his.

Because our move to Australia took place a year later, and it seemed the world could speak of nothing but Elvis around that time in history, in my mind I have always connected the death of Elvis and our migration to Australia together.

Lisa Marie had me totally captivated. She talked of her struggles in life, of the darkness she had lived through and of finding faith. Lisa Marie added that some of the most vivid memories of her father are of him singing Gospel. In fact, she told of times where she was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of her father’s voice singing gospel. Lisa Marie said that this was his favourite genre – no question about it. At this point I lost my fight to hold my tears back as Lisa Marie continued: “He seemed to be at his most passionate, and at peace while singing gospel. He would truly come alive. This music was what moved him”.

In 2018 a new Elvis album was released called “Elvis Presley – Where no one stands alone”, celebrating the artist’s everlasting love of gospel music. 41 years after his death, Lisa Marie Presley sings duet with her father on this powerful and moving album. It is hard to listen to it without crying. The lyrics have the power to move the hardest of hearts. “…My heart felt alone and I cried Oh Lord, don’t hide your face from me… Hold my hand all the way, Every hour, every day, Come here to the great unknown, Take my hand, let me stand, Where no one stands alone”. I can only imagine how emotional the recording experience must have been for Lisa Marie.

Elvis Presley once said, “Since I was two years old, all I knew was gospel music. It became such a part of my life, it was as natural as dancing. A way to escape my problems, and my way of release”. It was Elvis’ explosive mix of styles – blues, bluegrass, country, swing, pop – that generated his iconic world-changing rock n’ roll, but it was the hymns, spirituals and church music of his childhood, the deep-seated gospel roots that sustained Elvis throughout his life.

“Once I stood in the night, With my head bowed low, In the darkness as black as could be, And my heart felt alone and I cried, Oh Lord, don’t hide your face from me”, sings Elvis together with Lisa Marie. I have been in that dark place and I know what it’s like, yet I also know what it’s like to know I am not there alone. My Heavenly Father is with me even when I don’t feel it.

“But I don’t know a thing in this whole wide world that’s worse than being alone…” the song lyrics continue. It is a great blessing to have a large family, to have parents and siblings, nieces & nephews as well as children and grandchildren. Yet even when a person belongs to a large family, there are times and seasons when everyone of us feels alone.

Lisa Marie talked about those lonely times, when she has longed to talk to her father just one more time. Asked what she would say to him, she answered: “HELP ME DAD!”. Having a father to turn to does give a sense of security in this life. I only came to understand that when I nearly lost my father in 2015. Yet it seemed that those lonely and dark times had brought Lisa Marie closer to her Heavenly Father and so it often is. I know that I don’t get through a day without saying at least once: HELP ME DAD to my Heavenly Father. And to have the assurance in my heart that He is ALWAYS ready to help me, is just the best thing ever.

Just like Elvis, whose deep-seated gospel roots sustained him throughout his life, I know it is those same deep-seated gospel roots that has sustained me and will continue to do so in the future, all the way to the Great Unknown.

Lisa Marie Presley, only 54 years old, was called home to the great unknown two days ago. To quote Lisa Marie herself: “I know someone can be here one minute and gone the next”.

“Hold my hand, All the way, Every hour, Every day, From here to the Great Unknown.” That is also my prayer, that God would hold my hand and your hand, all the way until we reach that Great Unknown at the other side of this life. Because “This troubled world is not my final home. But until then, My heart will go on singing, Until then with joy I’ll carry on, Until the day my eyes behold the city, Until the day God calls me home!”

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Anne-Marie says:

    So glad you are writing… I did not know gospel was Elvis’s favourite genre.

    My mum at ninety-four and a half years died on Tuesday. Her favourite hymn has these lines and we will be reading them at her funeral:

    Joys still increasing,
    And peace never ceasing,
    Fountains that dry not,
    And roses that die not,
    Blooming in Eden, await me at last.

    Mum had roses outside her bedroom window. When we knew she was dying, someone came to visit with some roses. She said she had gone out into her garden and had not expected any roses to be blooming, but there they were and so she brought a bunch in… She did not know of mum’s favourite hymn!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have taken a little break from writing. Maybe it’s an indication that I am feeling (physically) better and I have instead spend a lot of time baking, cooking, enjoying Christmas and being with family and friends. Yet the yearning to write wells up at times to a point that I have to stop everything and just write.
      I am so sorry to hear about your mum. It is always difficult to lose a mum no matter how old they are. “Peace never ceasing”.. what beautiful hymn words! Roses are gorgeous flowers indeed. Hope you have a blessed funeral for your dear mum with lots and lots of roses. God’s angels be with you as you grieve.

      Liked by 1 person

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