John Lennon was well known for his uplifting melodies, as well as his penchant for skepticism and rejection of authority. In 1971 he released one of his most popular songs, Imagine. In a few brief verses, he discounts the value of national identity, property rights, and religious convictions. You know many of the lyrics:
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…
In 1975, the burned out singer/composer actually walked away from the music industry and traded five years for a life of simplicity and isolation. He devoted himself to the care of his son, Sean. He found solace in family life. He began to question some the ideals that had driven him through all those years of anger and rebellion. In 1980, he released a new album that contained Beautiful Boy, a song to his preschool son. Three weeks after the release, he was dead.
People still talk about Lennon’s assassination. They talk about his legacy. And they talk about the radical ideals of Imagine. But little has been made of Lennon’s advice to his beloved, beautiful boy; words of wisdom penned by the once cynical rock musician just months before his demise. Twice in Beautiful Boy, the caring father encourages his son,
Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer.
As a younger man, Lennon had encouraged us all to imagine there’s no Heaven. As a responsible dad offering guidance to his impressionable child, he encouraged the lad to pray every night. What do you suppose led to such a fundamental reversal of priorities? It was probably the discovery that even for influential celebrities, our lives are mostly out of our control. And the realization that worldly riches do not satisfy. Lennon also told his son,
Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans
Trust somebody who is in control. And lift up the Cross!