I imagined the song “Big House” as a life rope long enough to reach even the farthest castaway. In a series of vignettes progressing through the American youth landscape, each line of the first two verses begins with an authentic statement of empathy: “I don’t know where you lay your head . . . I don’t know if you got a family.”
On our first tour, I had realized just how different kids’ experiences were. Rich. Poor. Mansions. Shacks. Moms and dads. Moms, no dads. I couldn’t pretend to know their lives, so I didn’t. I did what I felt the previous generations did not. I admitted that I did not know. I didn’t have the answers for this generation’s questions, and I didn’t want to pretend that I did. But there was one thing we all have in common. I felt it as much as everyone else. We were searching for something.
So next, a line before the hook, I aimed at the deepest, darkest, loneliest corners of our hearts where the sun struggles to shine: “I don’t know if you feel love at all. But I bet you wish you had.” Then came the invitation we are all waiting for. The invitation to belong to something bigger than this world and our troubles in it: “Come and go with me to my Father’s house.” . . .
After the invitation came a series of images of the heaven I wished I’d fully known as a child: “It’s a big big house . . .” Then we get to explore the house together, room by room, and collectively experience a holy and everlasting joy. I imagined a lawn large enough for me and my friends to play football or where I could play catch with my dad, or even my own kids. An infinite, emerald green lawn, rising into a rainbow of light; warm sun and cool grass, soft and forgiving, and always leading back to the Father’s house. . . .
With “Big House,” I was letting go of trying to understand all the complexities of religion. Others could debate them for as long as they wanted, but I was through. I was ready to jump past a seemingly infinite number of irrelevancies between believers and experience the joy promised to all of us. In heaven and on earth. I’d soon find that millions of others wanted to join me.