Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jesus, can you take the time to throw a drowning man a line?

Like many of you, I have teetered on both sides of the threshold of tears since Friday. I was listening to music on shuffle mode this morning when U2's Peace on Earth came on. I was struck with how fitting the lyrics are to how I am feeling. That the song was published in 2000, unfortunately, means that we have heard this story before. 

In its original form, the song gives voice to feelings frustration and sorrow in the wake of lives lost to terrorism in Northern Ireland. I can identify with the conflicting emotions Bono sings of as he struggles to find optimism when there seems to be little reason for it. Ultimately though, I choose to hear the songs hopeful possibility. Finding peace in one's heart may seem unlikely in these days, but good in the world vastly outnumbers the bad. We have to believe that if we are to be part of the solution.

So here are the lyrics to U2's Peace on Earth. I have replaced the five names from the original lyrics, names of people who died in Northern Ireland, with  five names from Sandy Hook Elementary. I hope that doesn't offend. 

Heaven on Earth
We need it now
I'm sick of all of this
Hanging around

Sick of sorrow
I'm sick of the pain
I'm sick of hearing
Again and again
That there's gonna be
Peace on Earth

Where I grew up
There weren't many trees
Where there was we'd tear them down
And use them on our enemies

They say that what you mock
Will surely overtake you
And you become a monster
So the monster will not break you

And it's already gone too far
You said that if you go in hard
You won't get hurt

Jesus can you take the time
To throw a drowning man a line
Peace on Earth

Tell the ones who hear no sound
Whose sons are living in the ground
Peace on Earth

No who's or why's
No one cries like a mother cries
For peace on Earth

She never got to say goodbye
To see the color in his eyes
Now he's in the dirt
Peace on Earth

They're reading names out
Over the radio
All the folks the rest of us
Won't get to know

Jack and Emilie
Grace, Anne, and Olivia*
Their lives are bigger than
Any big idea

Jesus can you take the time
To throw a drowning man a line
Peace on Earth

To tell the ones who hear no sound
Whose sons are living in the ground
Peace on Earth

Jesus in the song you wrote
The words are sticking in my throat
Peace on Earth

Hear it every Christmas time
But hope and history won't rhyme
So what's it worth

This peace on Earth
Peace on Earth
Peace on Earth
Peace on Earth

* Names used in U2 lyrics replaced with five Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting Victims. The complete list of victims are listed here:

Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female
Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male
Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female.
Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female
Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female
Dylan Hockley, 3/8/06, male
Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female
Madeleine F. Hsu, 7/10/06, female
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6/08/06, female
Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male
Jesse Lewis, 6/30/06, male
James Mattioli , 3/22/06, male
Grace McDonnell, 12/04/05, female
Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female
Emilie Parker, 5/12/06, female
Jack Pinto, 5/06/06, male
Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male
Caroline Previdi, 9/07/06, female
Jessica Rekos, 5/10/06, female
Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female
Lauren Rousseau, 6/1982, female (full date of birth not specified)
Mary Sherlach, 2/11/56, female
Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female
Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male
Allison N. Wyatt, 7/03/06, female

As I was about to close this post, I realized that I was moved by a similar song in church services this past Sunday. We sang "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" as our rest hymn between speakers. The words were written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The third and fourth verses describe the dispair and hope I have been feeling.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

In their respective conclusions, Longfellow's passage is more optimistic than Bono's. I think I need that.

Peace on Earth!


Blogger The Average Consumer said...

I’ve been reading a book about a neurosurgeon who had a rather extensive near death experience and the things he learned while in heaven. How’s this for a quote that backs up gospel doctrine:

“I could see the Earth as a pale blue dot in the immense blackness of physical space. I could see that earth was a place where good and evil mixed, and that this constituted one of its unique features. Even on earth there is more good than evil, but earth is a place where evil is allowed to gain influence in a way that would be entirely impossible at higher levels of existence. That evil could occasionally have the upper hand was known and allowed by the Creator as a necessary consequence of giving the gift of free will to beings like us.”
Beth Parks

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 9:21:00 AM  

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