Thursday, February 3, 2011

To Christ, Through Dave Matthews

About ten years ago (oh God, can it be that long) I was getting ready to start an 8 day silent retreat with a bunch of other young Jesuits.  And a buddy of mine and I went to a Target -- because what else are you going to do when you know you're going to be in prayer for 8 days, but wander through a big store looking for impulse buys.   

And I came upon a new Dave Matthews Band album, "Everyday".  

Now, I really can't tell you why I bought it.  I guess I was into Dave Matthews at the time, Satellite and all the stuff around then, but it wasn't like I had heard anything from the album. This was long before iTunes (as long as that seems now...).  It might even have been before Napster. 


So anyway, I impulse bought the album, and immediately regretted it -- I was going on retreat for God's sake (no pun intended, but hey, I'll take the credit), I was trying to live a simple life. "Ooh, shiny trinket, must have it" really did not live up.  

But there we were.  

Now, some people do not listen to music on retreat. Cone of silence and all that. Or they only do "religious music" -- music you'd hear at religious services or at a Jars of Clay concert.  

At a recent Mass, my Mom asks if she can get seconds.

Me, the older I get, the more spiritual nourishment I seem to get from more popular music, like Broadway or heavy metal. (Okay, not heavy metal, not ever, not even if I were deaf and blind and turned it up really loud so that I could feel the vibrations.  But the Broadway thing is for real. I actually did a 30 day silent retreat where a huge amount of the spiritual nourishment, if you will, came from songs by Stephen Sondheim. Best. Retreat. Ever.)

So I listened to that DMB album on retreat, and this one song just leapt out at me - "The Space Between."  It's the intro that just grabbed me and wouldn't let me go: "You cannot quit me so quickly/There's no hope in you for me,/ No corner you could squeeze me,/But I got all the time for you, love."

That last line, that's the persistent message of the song -- no matter how long it might take, how resistant or far away I might be at any one time, he's not going anywhere. "We're strange allies with warring hearts, what a wildeyed beast you be." "The space between the bullets in our fire fight, is where I'll be hiding waiting for you." 

And all I could think was, what if that were God talking? What if it were okay by him that I'm not perfect, that this movie's more of a chase flick or a romantic comedy where they only meet at the very end? How about that? 

You can decide for yourself whether I've put too much English on the ball, as it were.  (I've put the video version of the song below -- I might suggest turning off your screen the first time, so you can just take in the lyrics. And here's the lyrics themselves.) 

But if you're someone like me, who feels sometimes like they don't live up, or may even be running sometimes (often?) in the wrong direction (to the mall?), maybe this is what God might want to say to you. 


KenAnselment said...

Mom asking for seconds. I just did a coffee-loaded spit take on my screen. Thanks for that, Seamus.

Jim McDermott, SJ said...

YEAH! You got it, Ken. Glad you liked it. (I'm sure my mother did, too.) :D