So I wanted to split my last blog entry into two parts as it was getting really, really long. However, they are connected, so if you're interested, please check out Songs, Prayer and Snobbery.
Anyway, I truly believe that prayer can be taken advantage of even in the most surprising situations. Let's take secular music, for example.
For those of your familiar with my Hidden Letter to Jesus, you'll note that there have been times that, while away from the Church, I've thrown myself into an outpouring of misery before God. This period of spiritual misery lasted several years, and I remember hearing an uber-popular Evanescence song titled "Bring Me to Life." (This link brings you to the video, so if you don't wanna see suicidal melodrama, I'd suggest not clicking).
When I'd sing this song, I'd sing it to Jesus. I'm not kidding. I'd pour my entire being into belting out that song. I have no doubt I probably looked like a lunatic in the car, but who cares? That song was my most heart-felt prayer in my period of spiritual desolation.
The woman (and supporting male) singer(s) is begging her beloved to reach through the darkness... the numbness... the pain... and pull her back from the brink of complete despair. She's begging him to breathe new life into her - to "lead [her soul] back home."
I, too, was begging this of God. "Call my name and save me from the dark... save me from the nothing I've become!" Just as the singer understood her past and current way of living was a lie, I understood that I needed to "open my eyes to everything... there must be something more." That more, I fully understood, was God. So that song, for me, became a prayer. I needed God to forcibly remove me from the life I was leading because I was simply too weak to do it myself. There was no life, no joy, no happiness within my heart and He was the only one who could once again breathe that life back into me. So yes, that pop-rock song was my prayer.
Mind you, I certainly wouldn't want to hear it at a Mass, but my point still stands.
A more current example is "The Cave" by Mumford and Sons. (Again, may I warn you that the video is horrible - not offensive, just horrible). I'm curious if they based this song off Aristotle's Allegory of the Cave since their last stanza always reminds me of it.
Anyway, this song hits home for me as a prayer on an entirely different level. In my endeavours for evangelization, this song is my prayer for strength, mercy and courage.
The lead singer starts with an empathic verse to someone who is currently struggling with an issue (in my mind) of faith. He then relays his own journey (past and present) along the path of faith, hope and freedom in understanding truth. He acknowledges that he still stumbles, but holds onto the hope that each stumble brings him further along the path towards truth. As a result of understanding the importance of this truth (of changing his "ways" and knowing his "name") he throws himself into helping others learn the truth... to fight against the pressures that work against our most basic nature.
I, too, have "come out of the cave walking on [my] hands, and [saw] the world hanging upside down." And though a million lyric places have the next line as "you'll understand dependence when you know the maker's hand" I truly believe it's "you'll understand dependence when you know they're makers none."
This is an important distinction. In the Allegory of the Cave, "coming out of the cave" was an extremely traumatic event. Being kept in the "dark" of ignorance for so long, the body had to fight to climb up and out of the cave. When a person finally did stumble out of the darkness, his eyes were forced to look away repeatedly from the bright light of truth. Slowly, timidly, the person could begin blinking his eyes open, looking around and seeing everything he once thought he understood in a wholly new light. Everything was, in short, upside down. Yet upon seeing things in the proper light, the first thing the person wants to do is go back for those left behind in the darkness - to educate them and pull them from the abyss. That is exactly what the lead singer attempts to do throughout his song. He takes the listener under his wing in an attempt to bring him along the path towards truth.
Thus, the importance of "You'll understand dependence when you know they're makers none."
If we all could stop for a moment and look at the folks in our lives that we place upon pedestals... how honest are we being with ourselves? How rosy are the glasses we tend to wear? We're obsessed with celebrities, we're hooked onto reality shows, we fawn over gossip magazines and sports broadcasts. If we were to see them "out of the cave" and understand who they were in truth, would we be so willing to devote so much time to them? None of these folks, in all honesty, are deserving of our time because none of them - not ONE of them - is the Maker. They are all dependent upon image and keeping us ignorant of who they are. They are dependent upon their own ignorance of themselves. None of them are the independent demi-gods we've turned them into. That is vital to our understanding of Truth.
So yes, "I will hold on[to] hope and I won't let you choke on the noose around your neck" speaks volumes about evangelization to me. I, equipped with the Truth of Christ, want to run my way back into the cave of ignorance and yank out as many souls as I can. "I'll find strength in pain and I will change my ways" speaks to me of the redemptive suffering we are each blessed with and the lessons we can learn through it. Finally, "I'll know my name as its called again" almost makes me cry (especially my repeated prayer for God to "Call my name" above). I have finally heeded the call of Christ. I know who I am once more. I am a child of God and I rejoice in the truth, satisfied with a peace and love inexpressable to those still content to remain in the shadows.
So in conclusion, I believe that God is happy to hear from us regardless of how we sent that message to Him so long as its with the right intention. If we're looking to honor Him, ask for His help or just say "Hey, You're Awesome and I love You!" I doubt He'd look upon our childish offerings with a scowl. He knows what's in our hearts, and if some folks choose to send up their prayers in a Gregoriant chant, awesome! If others feel a true connection with a Britney Spears song, who am I to say that the Holy Spirit can't work through the radio?
It's all in the state of our heart, and who are we to judge what we cannot see or understand? :)
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