I was talking to my brother, Danny, on the phone today. He's part of a discussion group that involves a Buddhist-turned-Reformed-Christian (not sure what that is), a Rabbi,a Taoist, and a Wiccan, among others. Last month, they met to discuss this commencement address (amazing; please read it if you haven't already).
This month, the group is meeting to discuss their favorite song lyrics. I told him I wished I were there. I would love to be a part of a group like that: diverse and opinionated yet open to others' opinions. I get excited just at the thought. I'm always happy to have my own beliefs confirmed, of course, but I also feel rejuvenated by talking to people who are working from a different paradigm than I am--provided that even frank and honest discussion is respectful. However, my circle hasn't spread quite as far in Chicago as his has in southern Virginia.
If I were there, I told him I know what song I would choose: "Sean" by The Proclaimers.
Here's a YouTube video of them singing. (I may have posted it before, but it's a song worth hearing many times over.) The cd version is a lot more raucous and a bit faster. My kids call it "Hi-Ya!" because the yelling at that part on the cd is almost violent in its exuberance. I love it more than I can express.
The Proclaimers are Scottish twins, and one of them, Charlie, wrote this after the birth of his son.
To me, this is a song about living in the joy of the moment and just being amazed at what we have and are capable of doing. If we ever seek for God, He's in all of us. This recognition is what a miracle is, to me. The lyrics are short and simple:
Sean I’d say the best one came from tupelo, mississippi
I’ll tell you now that grown men cry and irish girls are pretty
Though fear and hurt and care can lead me to despair
I saw why I’m here the morning you appeared
Sean, I sat awhile on clouds to ask God if he’s living
I should have spent the time on knees in thanks for what he’s given
From parents smart and strong to both of us passed on
From kings is where you come, through daughters and through sons.
These lyrics also remind me of one of my favorite quotes from a book. The book is "Here If You Need Me" by Kate Braestrup. The author is a minister whose husband was killed in a car crash right as he was getting ready to go to divinity school himself. After he died, she felt she had to take up his cause, his "mantel" perhaps. She says she's an agnostic and finds God in the world anyway. It's a beautiful book--much, much truer and more resonating for me than "The Shack" (which, honestly, I couldn't stomach and gave up reading it after the first 50 pages of preach, preach, preach. It's one of the few books I've had such a visceral reaction to... that and "Love You Forever," which also turns my stomach). I think I prefer Braestrup's book and her approach because I'm more comfortable with people who want to believe, who struggle and sweat to believe, than with people who say they know. I can't relate to the latter and never have.
Here's the quote:
"A miracle is not defined by an event. A miracle is defined by gratitude. A grateful heart beats in a world of miracles. If I could only speak one prayer for you, my children, it would be that your hearts would not only beat but grow ever greater in gratitude, that your lives, however long they prove to be and no matter how they end, continue to bring you miracles in abundance."
Danny said he was sitting in on a Sunday School class not too long ago in which someone said that Heaven will be knowing all the answers to the questions we've been asking our entire lives. I hope that's not what it is.
I enjoy asking questions. I enjoy seeking for answers. Even when I skip ahead to find out how a story ends, I still read the book. I still finish the movie. Because it's the quest that excites me and not the result.
"Sean, I sat a while on clouds to ask God if he's living. I should have spent the time on knees in thanks for what he's given."
For the record, I have to say my heart constantly beats with gratitude--not because I know anything but because I don't care if I know anything. This moment amazes me. And that's more than enough.