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:: Monday, November 03, 2003 ::

U2 and St. Andrew of Crete: A Lenten Reflection

After reading the news from this post, I was inspired to dig up the following meditation on U2's song "Stuck in a Moment" posted on the Evangelical/Orthodox Discussion Group a few years back. Enjoy.

[Begin quoted material] -- This offering's subject line is from U2's most recent album, "All That You Can't Leave Behind." The song is titled "Stuck in a Moment." An excerpt:

I'm not afraid
Of anything in this world
There's nothing you can throw at me
That I haven't already heard

I'm just trying to find
A decent melody
A song that I can sing
In my own company

In some weird sense, this song sometimes sounds to me like God's song to us during Lent. The rest:

I never thought you were a fool
But darling look at you
You gotta stand up straight
Carry your own weight
These tears are going nowhere baby

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment
And now you can't get out of it

Don't say that later will be better
Now you're stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

Selfish tears are not what God seeks, but rather tears of real repentance, the tears that aren't "going nowhere." Indeed, with the tears of repentance, we can truly then "stand up straight / Carry [our] own weight," because it is God Himself Who lifts us. More:

I will not forsake
The colors that you bring
The nights you filled with fireworks
They left you with nothing

I am still enchanted
By the light you brought to me
I listen through your ears
Through your eyes I can see

God accepts our offerings to Him, but often our religious pretty falseness(_pseudokalos_) amounts to little more than fireworks which, while pretty, leave us with nothing in the end. What God wants is our souls, ourselves, the "light you brought to me," and in us he can "listen through [our] ears/Through [our] eyes [He] can see." Our gluttonies and addictions fill us...

And you are such a fool
To worry like you do
I know it's tough
And you can never get enough
Of what you don't really need now
My, oh my

...and so, we fast! He calls to us again:

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

Oh love, look at you now
You've got yourself stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

I was unconscious, half asleep
The water is warm 'til you discover how deep

Perhaps here He speaks of the Incarnation and of His rejection by His people:

I wasn't jumping, for me it was a fall
It's a long way down to nothing at all

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

Don't say that later will be better
Now you're stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

"Don't say that later will be better" echoes a centuries previous song by St. Andrew of Crete: "My soul, my soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded. Awake, then, and be watchful, that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere present and fills all things."

But He will be with us always, throughout our Lenten struggle:

And if the night runs over
And if the day won't last
And if our way should falter
Along the stony pass

It's just a moment
This time will pass

One of my favorite Biblical phrases has got to be "This, too, shall pass." Lent is about so many things, but among those things is, I think, getting unstuck from our "moments." We seem to be obsessed with moments here in our culture. If the "moment" has one element missing or fumbled, it's "ruined," and the "mood" is broken.

Lent is about struggle against sin, the struggle against nothingness, the struggle to attain to who we were created to be, our *true selves*. If we stay stuck in our moments, then the dynamic of Creator-Created relationship is disowned. We in fact deny the dynamic of our relationship with the Created, as well, whether it is with the Earth that God made for us or with our fellow persons.

Life is *dynamic* -- I am not the same person I was when I began this little letter. Getting stuck in ruts, in moments -- that is the stuff of sin, to make us believe that the status quo is just dandy, when in reality, we are not "stuck" but really moving *away* from Life Himself. We cannot help but be always moving, always changing, always dynamic -- we can, however, fool ourselves into the static, getting stuck in moments.

In those "moments" in which we find ourselves, the true nature of sin is that self-satisfaction, self-sufficiency, wrong-headed contentment. In that "moment," we do not need any God, because we have our "moment," our lovely, controllable, predictable, safe place of "happiness." In our "moment," we are an idol (_eidolon_, "phantom"), a false god (_pseudotheos_), and in our pseudotheology, we have our moment of pleasure, our moment of power, our moment of self sufficiency.

In Lent, God calls us once again to break out of our moments, to be really ravished by a sweetness and wonder which is entirely beyond all control, beyond all understanding, beyond all prediction, beyond everything that is safe. It is a place which is dangerous, mystical, powerful, and all of it is only possible with true humility, true self-emptying.

*Alone*, we are in our moments, our paltry little self-made "worlds" which are safe, stable, and nice. *With God* and *in His Church*, we are capable of being *true* gods ("I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." Ps. 82:6), moving beyond ourselves, moving into perfect self-transcendence, moving into perfect communion, into true holiness, becoming what we were created to be.

Only through true repentance, struggle, self-emptying, and deep, joyful sorrow, can we enter into the eternal, divine flame, soaking up His radiance and heat, ourselves becoming blindingly brilliant as we radiate the Holy Light.

"He is my Helper and Protector, and has become my salvation. This is my God and I will glorify Him. My father's God and I will exalt Him. For gloriously has He been glorified." (St. Andrew of Crete)"

:: Karl :: 7:59:00 AM [Link] ::

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