As a driver you don't make a hell of a lot of money. Saturday nights are the big money nights. You live on those. Weekends with my daughter is always hard when I am gone for 12 hours during the night and sleeping another 7. One weekend I said fuck it, took a Saturday off, and spent about a months worth of tips on one wild night to make a memory.
My ears were ringing for days from the Bon Jovi concert I took her to at Soldier Field on July 12.
Anyone who reads my Facebook page or knows me personally knows that this is my favorite band. I have all their albums including some hard to get B sides and demo tracks. Despite all this, I have never been to one of their concerts before. Sharing this with my daughter was wonderful.
Towards the end of the night, Bon Jovi played what is likely their best known song, "Living on a Prayer." Through much of the song the band just played the music and the audience sang it.
Imagine if you can 60,000 people singing a song together. Lost in the moment of the concert I was just having fun. Then I looked to my left. My "too cool for school" teenager daughter was just as immersed as I was. She was in full abandon belting out the lyrics word for word. She was not only next to me, but she was among and with me and the tens of thousands present. I suspect my smile at that moment was broader than Jon Bon Jovi's boyish grin on stage. For the rest of the song I had the full realization and presence that we were together as one voice.
After the concert we walked along a lakeside pier in downtown Chicago with a summer night sky hugging us with it's late night humidity. She gave me one of the biggest hugs she has given me in a long time, kissed me on the cheek and said, "Thank you so much for taking me, Dad!" In that moment, a daddy's heart soared.
On the way home we hit a roadside diner for a late dinner. Over our burgers and onion rings I asked her if she had a favorite part. She said Living on a Prayer. I asked why. She said it was because we all did it together.
This brought me back to the recurring theme of unity that I strove for as a pastor. I always wanted to live in a religious space where "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."
I never saw that in my church and I never saw the church belittle itself to enter the night. It is unsaved, unwashed, and impure. It is also honest.
What I strove for already existed. It existed at a stadium. For a short time we were no longer republican or democrat, rich or poor, man or woman. We were one voice singing one song. What I strove for also happened every night in my taxi. Rich. Poor. Muslim. Christian. Black. White. Liberal. Conservative. They all shared space in my taxi every night. Maybe it was not as majestic and powerful as a stadium, but what I sought was always present. What I tried to force with religion already existed. I tried to create and invite people to something that already was.
My daughter and I got home about the time my normal shift would have ended. She fell asleep within minutes of getting to my room. I watched her sleep as I waited for the sun to rise and all I had was that night. I knew that this night was about to cost me weeks of raman noodles and cold cheese sandwiches. I knew I would be refilling my water bottle at gas station bathrooms and drinking the shitty 89 cent coffee from the burnt urn at the gas station. That was the cost for this night. It was worth it.
As the song says, "We've got each other and that's a lot for love. We'll give it a shot."