Monday, August 29, 2011

Country Music and Spirituality

At the risk of alienating lots of you, I will reveal that I am a country music fan. I love opera too, and other kinds of music, but I’m just saying that some of the country songs on the radio actually have pretty good theology. Case in point, there’s a Rascal Flatts song entitled “God Bless the Broken Road.” The lyrics of the song remind us that the difficult roads, the journeys that seem like detours and our disappointments often end up leading us right where we need to be.

When I'm not listening to C & W music or watching TV, I will occasionally even pick up a BOOK! One of my all time favorite books (well, favorite book that you'd expect a priest to like...I also like football books but that's for another day) is Yearnings-Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life by Rabbi Irwin Kula. I'll be offering this book as a book study during the Season of Advent plus our young adults group will begin reading this book in September. Rabbi Kula writes, “The process of becoming is circuitous. Life has no straight lines or easy paths.” Amen brother! That's the "broken road" theology in a nutshell.

At the time, most of us can’t appreciate the odd twists and turns. At the time it's hard to believe the broken road is anything but broken. At the time of my divorce back in 1996 I had no idea that 3 years later someone perfect for me would be coming my way. Someone I appreciate so much more having been down a winding road earlier. (This someone by the way introduced me to country music). All the times we wrestle with doubt, collapse into grief, or feel the chill of isolation can be times we actually draw deeper into our faith. Times that we draw deeper into that painful part of our faith that transcends the vagaries of our “feelings”.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, when the Israelites wandered in the desert, their reliance upon God and their ability to pray even in the midst of despair had to come from a deeper place than “feeling like” doing it. For Jesus when He was alone and hungry or the Israelites longing for the promised land the journey included just making one step at a time.

We are quick to say that God blesses us when our lives are good and easy. We are quick to say God blesses us when we have plenty of money in our wallets. But I think the Rascal Flatts boys may be on to something. Rather than believe that God inflicts our suffering or arranges for it, I think God is more than capable of blessing it and by blessing it, transforming it. Through the Holy Spirit revealed in the arms of the community we can remind one another that the broken roads, the wilderness journeys take us where they take us. But no matter where the broken roads or the clear paths lead, we are never outside of God’s reach.
Blessings to you now and always no matter what road you are taking. Love, Rhoda