Modern Meditation Monday – “Make a Joyful Noise”

One Lenten sacrifice some people make is to give up listening to secular music. To be sure, some lyrics of the more dance-able songs don’t speak to our strength or dignity as women. But not all mainstream music contains negative messages. In fact, some songs proclaim profound thoughts for reflection.

Consider the lyrics of Death Cab for Cutie’s “You’re a Tourist.” The verses capture the emotions found in the biography of St. Francis of Assisi. After a prolonged illness as a young adult, he returned to his usual life of partying with his rich friends, but felt deeply unsatisfied and out of place.

Now let’s break it down:

“And when you feel like you’re a tourist
In the city you were born
Then it’s time to go
And define your destination
With so many different places
To call home
Cause when you find yourself a villain
In this story you have written
It’s plain to see
That sometimes the best intentions
Are in need of redemptions
Would you agree?
If so, please show me”

Francis felt like an outsider among his peers. His profligate life of leisure and spending his father’s riches made him feel like he was doing wrong. He prayed, and oh, did the Lord show him: The rest of his life he devoted himself to traveling around in poverty with no home base – just as Jesus had commanded of apostles in the Gospels.

The rest of the song’s lyrics apply not just to saints’ lives, but our own as Proverbial women as well. Though the tone and instrumental accompaniment aren’t rousing, the words are encouraging:

“When there’s a burning in your heart
An endless yearning in your heart
Build it bigger than the sun
Let it grow, let it grow
When there’s a burning in your heart
Don’t be alarmed.”

Wherever you’re at with your relationship with God, if suddenly you’re surprised at a new fluttering of desire to be called to something greater, something new – you need not worry; this is nothing to fear.

“When there’s a doubt in your mind
Cause you’re thinkin’ all the time
Framin’ rights into wrongs
Move along, move along
When there’s a doubt in your mind”

This current season of Lent in particular inspires us to reflect, to contemplate, to review our lives. Competing worldviews among members of our own Catholic faith can prompt inner anxiety – am I living right? Is this opinion okay to have? But we shouldn’t linger in these doubts. If we’ve been properly taught in the faith and are living as Christ calls us, we need not give into insidious questions, as those only lead to fear.

“When there’s a burning in your heart
And you think you’ll burst apart
Oh, there’s nothing to fear
Save the tears, save the tears”

How many times have we felt like only a thread was keeping us together or we’d explode – not just in anger, sadness or worry or even happiness or love, but somehow we manage to keep together? I like to think it’s God’s love anchoring every thread of our being. With such power in our souls, why retreat back to fear? No, let us laugh at the future.



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