"36" - The Story Behind The Song

At the age of 36, I felt the last few grains of Christianity fall like sand through my fingers, becoming a part of the soil beneath my feet. I found myself standing on a new earth, one that I knew hardly anything about, one that had been around for billions of years, one that I had only been a part of for 36.

I hadn’t been looking for a new faith. I wasn’t trying to be rebellious or cool. I just found it all not making sense to me anymore. The unanswered prayers dealing with life and death. The answered prayers dealing with gas money and lost keys. The exclusion of people groups. The mixture and manipulation of government and faith.

The more I looked around, the more I realized I didn’t agree.

For the first 36 years of my life I had built a foundation of belief that I now see as a filter handed to me at birth, through which, I experienced all of reality. A filter that informed me of what was good and what was bad. Who was in and who was out. What was finite and what was infinite.

When my belief fell down and my filter was removed, I felt like a child in a new reality where my only moral compass was the beating heart in my chest. Instead of following the code of conduct that had been handed down through generations, I began to follow my gut, my intuition and quickly I realized that all it wanted was to love and to be loved.

I was love looking for love.

I was human looking for human connection.

In March of 2018, my 36th year on this planet, I went on vacation with my sister Sarah. She is a gift. Always has been. I found myself so badly wanting to share about my new experience outside of the walls of our once shared faith, but I found myself caught behind massive walls of fear. Fear that said I wouldn’t be accepted anymore due to my unbelief. Fear that said I would lose all those close to me, even my own family, if they knew I saw the world differently.

In some ways, looking back, I’m surprised to see that the only fear of separation I was going through at that time, was not one from me and a god, but rather from me and humanity. Me and people. Me and other human beings.

I felt the chasm growing wider everyday between the people I grew up with and the person I was becoming.

And sitting there, by the beach, on vacation with Sarah, I realized that due to the difference in our belief system, a deep divide had been formed between us. One that neither of us wanted. And one that neither of us knew how to heal.

At this distance, there wasn’t a lot you could shout across the canyon of separation. If I attempted to throw beliefs to the other side, the wind would gather them up and throw them to the sea before ever reaching the person I was trying to convince of my safety and “rightness”.

When we were silent, the chasm would close and we could exchange life and love, yet when I opened my mouth to explain anything about beliefs, I would immediately feel a half a million miles from where she was.

We spent so much time trying to figure out how to communicate anything that we deemed worthy to each other - until we found ourselves tired of the conversation. Tired of the convincing. Tired of the fronting. Tired of the defending.

Then, there in our tiredness, we were given the chance to let each other know that no matter what we believed in or how different we may see this world - that it didn’t really matter. The only thing that mattered was that we loved each other.

For who we were. As we were.

And when we spoke of love, true love that went beyond belief, I could feel this canyon, once 500,000 miles wide, come together swiftly, like the jaws of a monster, swallowing up all of the fear that once held us apart.

When I got home from this beautiful trip, I wrote this song. “36”.

It’s about my new beginning, my new understanding, and the new realization that love was the only way forward.

So if you are a believer or a non believer. A democrat or a republican. A this or a that. And you are beginning to see the wide chasms of fear that lay between you and the ones you seek to give and receive love from - let go of your belief, lay down your need to be right and extend love to the person on the other side.

I love you. And I hope the best for you on this journey of life. No matter what you believe.

David Lunsford