taking the words of Jesus seriously

I started writing “On the Way Back Down” while hiking on Mount Davidson in San Francisco. What started out as a reflection on redwoods and roots reminded me of a friend’s cautionary tale of a success that came crashing down.

Things don’t go the way we thought they would. Tragedy strikes. Grief sets in. We see a whole new world on the way back down. We wouldn’t wish it on anyone but we can’t unsee it. Maybe it’s got something to teach us. Maybe.

I just finished reading “For Such a Time as This,” a memoir by Rev. Sharon Risher. Rev. Risher had just graduated from Austin Seminary, gotten ordained, and landed her first chaplaincy position at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX. And then, on June 17, 2015, her world turned upside down. Risher’s mother, Ethel Lance, and 8 others were brutally killed in a mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. I can’t even begin to imagine this kind of pain. And though her memoir doesn’t shy away from the pain, it doesn’t stay there either. On the way back down from pain, anger, isolation, and fear Rev. Risher found her new life’s ministry as an “accidental activist” for gun law reform. She reminds me that there’s purpose on the way back down from pain and life on the other side of death.

(Song Video illustrated by Paul Soupiset)

On The Way Back Down

words & music by Paul Demer 

Verse 1:

Climbed the tallest mountain in San Francisco 

Looking for a melody 

Way up in the canopy 

Where redwoods see more sorrow than I could know 

Higher than the golden gate 

Foggy like a cityscape 


But on the way down 

I looked down at the ground 

And saw a system of roots beneath 

The roots under my feet

Were holding up them trees

And bringing the mountain together 



And you notice different things

You notice different things

You notice different things on the way back down 


Verse 2:

He got a little buzz around his first release 

The crowds were getting bigger 

So his agent pulled the trigger 

And shot him to a stardom he’d never known 

Waving like a lighter 

His future growing brighter 


But as he looked down 

At New York on the ground 

He knew what fame could never fix 

His wife was back at home 

As he stood there all alone 

Above a city that never sleeps 




Verse 3:

You bottled up your pain until it ran all over 

Your words were getting sharper 

And my heart was getting harder 

I wondered if we’d make it through a night so dark 

I faced you like a fighter

Then held you that much tighter 


And as we looked down

Our tears they hit the ground 

Sowing seeds for morning’s mercy 

Now we’re digging in the dirt 

Pulling out the buried hurt 

As a garden grows beneath




About The Author


Paul Demer is a singer-songwriter, record producer, worship leader, and outreach musician. Paul connects with diverse audiences in living rooms, bars, churches, nursing homes, and hospitals in his hometown of Dallas, TX, and across the country.

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