Recently, I came into possession of Alanna Boudreau’s “Champion” CD. And I’ve been listening to it on repeat pretty much since then. As with all CDs, there are some songs I like more than others and certain lines in songs that move me more than others.
Her song “Controlled Burn” is one of the songs on repeat a bit more than others and I want to highlight a couple of the lines that stand out to me.
“And I ache, I ache, I ache / When I see all the nothing / That could have been something / That should have been you”
This line is perhaps the most perfect summary of these months of summer and maybe even the past year. From the silent retreat near the beginning of summer to my sister’s home visit to being on the brink of school beginning, I have felt an ache for the nothingness that surrounds me. Sometimes I am a bit fearful about the judgment that will come at the end of my life and how I will need to answer for all of my time. The “nothing” that I did should have been replaced by the Lord, by perfectly following His will in all things. Someday I will regret that wasted time even more than I do now.
I’m not saying that every moment needs to be filled to the brim with productivity. Americans, however, aren’t particularly good at true leisure. We binge watch TV shows, waste time on our phones, and fastidiously document our lives on social media. Obviously, these are all generalizations, but our inability to truly embrace leisure is evident. So when I say I waste time, I don’t mean I neglected to work, work, work. Rather, I was isolated too much, preferring to spend time on my own rather than setting up numerous coffee dates or road trips or nights out with friends. As an introvert, it is an easy hole to fall into and an even easier one to justify.
At some point, whether in two days or seventy years, I will need to explain to the Lord how I used the time that He gave me. Stripped of all weak excuses, I am uncertain what my answer will be. Perhaps even worse would be if the Lord told me what I could have done had I fully surrendered my time to Him.
“And I thirst, I thirst, I thirst / As I lick off the pavement / As if it gives me water / As if it gives me you”
Do you ever feel like this is what you do? I do. It closely connects with the first line that I pointed out. We are all filled with longing, some of us simply recognize it more acutely than others. Yet too often we turn to the wrong things to satisfy our thirst. In John 4, the woman goes to the well to get water to quench her physical thirst. Jesus, the Living Water, tells her that if she would but ask, He could give her water that would make her never thirst again.
The offer Jesus made holds true today. He is still the well that never runs dry, the Living Water that will sate all thirst. Time and time again, I instead turn to ephemeral puddles, asking them to satisfy a longing that is far beyond their capacity. As Alanna Boudreau writes, we lick the pavement expecting it to quench our thirst.
The verses strike me because they seem to model so much of my prayer. I have spent hours telling the Lord about my desires and presenting my longings to Him, asking Him to fulfill them as only He can. Yet the refrain is where hope is offered as the song emphasizes that there are second chances and we can be recovered, revived, and offered new life. In the midst of what seems like a desert, we are reminded that there is Living Water and our longings can be filled if we turn to the correct source. If we look up from the pavement, from our ache, we will encounter the One who desires more for us than we could ever fathom, more than we even desire for ourselves.
In one moment, I can give you more than you are able to desire.
Jesus to St. Faustina
Divine Mercy in My Soul, 1169