“I think our music exists in the 29 days,” said Jars of Clay frontman Dan Haseltine on a recent Relevant podcast.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
The foundational voice of one of the preeminent Christian music forces in the last century thinks his music really comes out of and speaks into the 29 days. That is, the majority of days in the month that are just not really all that dreamy. Jars of Clay says that because Jars of Clay must know about that: The good days, the golden days are the exception. The rare block on that calendar with forecast sunny, all day long. Most days are full of anxiety that grips us at a stoplight for no reason, heaviness because we misinterpreted a text message, avocados that are already rotting, and unanticipated bills.
There are blessings but the 29 days remind us that we are not home yet.
I love Jars of Clay. Each album has its own tone, its own mature sound. I especially like songs like “Safe to Land” and “Reckless Forgiver” and “Boy on a String” because they talk about what I now know are the 29 days. Dealing with our own concept of God in the midst of our mess. Seeing him show up to our landfills and begin plowing and packing through the garbage piled high.
Haseltine has contended with some well-earned controversy for his ponderings on Twitter recently, which he addresses in the podcast. Less interesting to me was his confirmation that he had thought about these things for a long while. More interesting to me was that he believed that church was a place to wrestle with doubt, to question and reason and help one another–because why else are we here? To be nothing but upstanding, confident in our every position? To pretend as though we are having 30 full days of bliss?
There are reasons why a band like Jars of Clay has survived and evolved through the last 20 years and we who are not on the inside nor omniscient will never fully understand. I have to believe, though, that there’s a key to survival that is offered in the 29 days, in the doubt, in the embrace of all that is not sunny and certain so that it may be examined and held to the light, for many months, for 20 years, and perhaps for as long as our little clay jars endure.