lenten journal: sing to the night


When I sat down tonight to write, what came to mind are songs that capture the emotions of the week ahead, which are not easy feelings. Part of the challenge every year for me is not to rush to Easter but to take the loss and grief seriously. Here, then, is my soundtrack, which is by no means exhaustive.

To set the tone, I’ll begin with Guy Clark’s “The Dark.”

in the dark you can sometimes
you can hear your own heart beat
or the heart of the one next to you
the house settles down
after holding itself up all day
shoulder slumps, gives a big sigh
you hear no one’s foot fall in the hall
that drip in the kitchen sink marking time
june bug on the window screen
can’t get in but he keeps on trying
one way or another we’re all in the dark

James Taylor’s “Lonesome Road” helps me picture how alone Jesus must have felt in the middle of everything coming down.

carry on—never mind feeling sorry for yourself
it doesn’t save you from your troubled mind
walk down that lonesome road all by yourself
don’t turn your head back over your shoulder
and only stop to rest yourself
when the silver moon is shining high above the trees

American Kid is the album Patty Griffin wrote after her father died. “Wild Old Dog” is an amazing expression of grief using a dog abandoned on the side of the interstate as a metaphor for God.

God is a wild old dog
someone left out on the highway
I seen him running by me
he don’t belong to no one now

Randy Newman’s song “I’ll Never Get Over Losing You” is another statement of grief. The video below also carries the story behind the song.

when you’re young and there’s time to forget the past
you don’t think that there’s time but you will
and I know that I don’t have time enough
and I’ll never get over losing you

I’ve been cold I’ve been hungry but not for a while
guess most of my dreams have come true
with it all here around me no peace do I find
’cause I’ll never get over losing you
no, I’ll never get over losing you

I am going to close the set with Andrew Peterson’s “After the Last Tear Falls” because even in our bleakest times, love is still the last word.

after the last disgrace, after the last lie to save some face
after the last brutal jab from a poison tongue
after the last dirty politician, after the last meal down at the mission
after the last lonely night in prison
there is love, love, love, love
there is love, love, love, love
there is love

and in the end, the end is oceans and oceans of love and love again
we’ll see how the tears that have fallen
were caught in the palms of the giver of love and the lover of all
and we’ll look back on these tears as old tales



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