Ok, this is my planned “Easter piece”. (Please see previous post.) I actually wrote it a while ago and waited for this time of year to post it. I know it sounds like I wrote it standing on a soap box and I promise not to preach again if you forgive me this one time. I’ll write for this blog “in the now” from now on but I can’t let all that planning go to waste!
Get It Together*
I probably read more into song lyrics I than I should or the writers intended. I admit that sometimes I can’t tell the difference between love songs and hymns. But this particular song overtly speaks to spirituality. If you listen to the song I think you’ll agree.
“Now’s the time for stepping out of place. Get up on your feet and give account of your faith. Pray to God or something or whatever you do.”
The British singer Seal co-wrote the song “Get It Together”. I have often wondered if he realizes that the song is divinely inspired. Ironically, it’s on the same CD as his famous song “Love’s Divine”.
The words of this song are so powerful; that’s why I included them in my prayer. The first line, “Now’s the time…”. Wow! It puts out there the profound concept of all of us, whatever the form of our faith, addressing our collective spirituality, together. “Now’s the time for stepping out of place.” Now’s the time. If ever there was a time we needed to get over ourselves enough to step out of places in time, with our involvement in what wants to be a holy war, this is the time. For what is extremism at either end except being locked in place? “Get up on your feet and give account of your faith.” I try to imagine if I had to account for my faith. Could I do it? Notice the song doesn’t say, “give account of someone else’s faith” because that would be my first inclination. As in ‘I don’t know how so and so can give account since they have the wrong faith.’ Or ‘so and so isn’t doing right by our faith, they don’t do this and they don’t do that.’ Or how about a two-fer, which goes something like, ‘What kind of values was that child raised with?’ With that one I get to account for the child and the parent.
Imagine if we all had to give account whatever our faith is. If we all had to step up and say ‘This is what I believe, this is why I believe it and this is how I live it.’ Do you know what would happen? Besides those who try to use the term “faith” to wrongly justify violence, what would happen is….we would be giving the same accounts. We would be expressing the same things no matter how we expressed them. Seal gets to the point in the next line. “Pray to God or something or whatever you do.” Or something. So he’s saying it’s not so important how we account but that we stand up together and account, again in our collective spirituality. He goes on to say, “What I see can make me stop and stare but who am I to judge the color of your hair.” So when I see someone who makes me stop in my tracks and think ‘WTF?’, let me remember to give account only of my own faith.
“We’ve got to keep this world together, got to keep it moving straight. Love like we need forever, so that people can relate.” The only way we can keep this world together is together. And with the lyric “love like we need forever” the songwriter is beating us over the head with his point. He’s saying that together we need to love one another in a deep way, in the true way that comes after we give account of our faith. That’s the meaning of the Christian concept of Agape love, isn’t it? It’s compassionate love that comes from faith in love as a manifestation of the divine. If we can love each other like that then, once again, it doesn’t matter how we express it. We can be together and relate to one another in love. As in the song line “so that people can relate”.
The next line is the one I adapted for my prayer. “If you’re rolling to the left, don’t forget I’m on the right.” I interpret those words to mean that no matter what position I take I have to consider the ‘other’ position with compassion and love if not agreement. Next comes the big payoff of this stanza, “Trust and forgive each other.” After I have accounted for my own faith and therefore opened my heart to the love I want and need forever then maybe I can trust and forgive. Trust and forgiveness are clearly not new ideas in faith traditions but they are two of the biggest obstacles to Agape love. In order for me to trust and forgive I have to get over myself. I don’t mean get over my traditions but get over past ideas of group or tribal righteousness that prevent me from trusting. I must accept that the values of “the other” are as valid in God’s sight as my own, and then I can trust. And forgiveness is even harder. On more than one occasion I have convinced myself that I have been forgiving only to find myself hanging on to my own sense in my heart. When I tell myself that I will forgive but not forget it’s just a ruse I use to disguise my lack of forgiveness. To forgive is to forget and let it go completely. The greatest and holiest of those among us throughout history have all stressed the importance of forgiveness. Forgiveness through compassion is a fundamental in our traditions.
In the next stanza the songs says, “Thinking of the troubles of today is it easier to put that gun away or is it difficult to stop and show you care.” Yeah it’s difficult! It’s a lot easier to put flag decals on my car than it is to step outside my comfort zone for the sake of others. I know that often I’ll feel the desire in my heart to show I care but then my mind gets started and I’ll think ‘If I get involved it might take to much of my time or I’ll have to take up someone else’s burden and I’ve got enough of my own. Or I might get hurt.’ But if I listen to my heart sense instead of my head sense I know that what is really important is that I show that I care.
The next line is the most profound to me. “Everything and everyone we know is beautiful.” Amen to that! The words go on to say, “Surely you will be the guide in light to see us all. Maybe we can be the vision of a perfect man’s dream.” The words are so optimistic and hopeful. When I hear them I envision the songwriter in a kind of rapture. What do you see when you think of those words? Maybe we can discuss that goal, together. Any contemplation of collective spirituality is vital in today’s world. Now’s the time.
(Track from Seal’s CD “Seal IV”, 2003, Warner Bros. Records)