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A spiritual take on popular music

From the March 25, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Originally appeared as a Web Original on January 21, 2013

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I was lying in bed watching Sport Relief, a huge TV charity event in the UK that raises tens of millions of pounds to provide aid for third-world countries across the globe. For a couple of years I’d been dealing with hay fever, and I had recently developed an annoying cough. As I was watching this charity event, many depressing images came up on the screen. I started having a coughing attack. Then, after one of the short films, which displayed an onslaught of negative images, Snow Patrol, an Irish band, started playing a beautiful acoustic version of their hit song “Chasing Cars.” This song is played all the time in the UK and is extremely popular. However, though I had heard the song many times, I’d never really taken time to listen to the lyrics. 

As I stopped coughing briefly, there was a moment of silence, allowing me to listen to the song. These lyrics reached my ears:

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own.

Those words intrigued me as they brought a meaning to me that I’d never found in the song before: a spiritual angle. I’m very familiar with the song “Amazing Grace,” written by English poet and clergyman John Newton after praying to God to save him from a sea-storm in 1748. I remember listening to it with my school when I was younger, and it seemed the floor was shaking with the power of it. It was the first time I had truly felt affected by music. I take “Amazing Grace” to be a perfect illustration of what I feel God’s grace to be. I like to think of grace as a soft, healing touch, a comfort that, like a soft mattress, is able to support us whenever we feel we are falling.  

There is a popular phrase “falling from grace,” which comes from the idea of falling from heaven, being banished, a fallen angel. However, I like to reverse this and think about the idea of “falling into grace.” Whenever we feel outside the presence of God, banished from God’s love, we can fall back into God’s arms without hesitation and He is always there to catch us. At this point I felt I needed to fall into grace, so that I could “find my own.”

I continued listening to “Chasing Cars” with this new sense of spirituality and falling into God’s love. The lyrics continued to surprise me in how relevantly they applied to my situation. The main refrain in the song is:

If I lay here,
If I just lay here,
Would you lie with me
and just forget the world?

Once again I was reminded of how close I was to God. I was lying in bed and God was there comforting me. I did not have to let the depressing images on the TV screen or my coughing impress me; instead, I needed to “forget the [material] world,” and stay with God. 

I like to think of grace as a soft, healing touch, a comfort that, like a soft mattress, is able to support us whenever we feel we are falling.

As I continued to do this, the refrain continued and I heard, “Show me a garden / That’s bursting into life.” This image of a garden not just slowly blooming, but “bursting” into fullness and health, showed me that God’s work is immediate and full. There is no halfway in God’s healing purpose for you; God takes you all the way. A healthy plant doesn’t half bloom and then stop; instead, its flower breaks out and brings beauty into the world, just as we do when we reflect God.

Any doubt I had that this event was just a fluke, a song that just happened to be on at this time, was eradicated when I continued listening to the lyrics of the song:

All that I am,
All that I ever was,
Is here in your perfect eyes,
They’re all I can see.

The lyrics of this song so perfectly reflected God’s message to me at that moment. I could know my identity as a child of God, which I am now, and as I always have been. I am perfect in God’s sight, and I only ever see what God sees: a perfect world. So while these sad short films on TV tried to impress me with their bleak view on mortality, I could know that God was looking after every person in those videos. I realized that if I see through God’s eyes, the images of horror and suffering can be reversed into those of hope as I recognize each individual as the reflection of God, Life, and Love.

As for myself, all coughing had stopped, and I was in a state of complete rest and serenity. In this “quiet sanctuary of earnest longings,” I had fallen into God’s grace. Similarly to Mary Baker Eddy’s instructions for prayer on page 15 of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, I had forgotten the material world, “enter[ed] into the closet and shut the door,” by knowing myself and the world as reflections of God’s perfect creation. I had “plead[ed] God’s allness.” The symptoms of hay fever vanished and have never returned.

Though this song that so uplifted me is more likely to have been written as a love song to a person rather than to God, God’s spiritual inspiration clearly shone through, as God is the source of all good ideas. I will never listen to the song in the same way again, and it has proved to me that God’s angels, “God’s thoughts passing to man” (Science and Health, p. 581), can be found in the most unexpected of places.

Robert Witney is from Fleet, Hampshire, England. He is currently a student at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois.

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