I Hear You
Dara: I’m very fortunate – my four kids like much of the music I like. I don’t know how many families have sing-a-longs in the car to such diverse hits as “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue” and “Eye of the Tiger”! We listen to classic rock, oldies, really really oldies, folk, and blues, and my kids can keep up with nearly every tune I love.
They have their own musical tastes, too, though – and they want to share them with me. We are a family that wants to share our sorrows and our joys with each other, and music, for us, is all joy. My son recently said to me, “Mom, I want you to look up a song by Listener, called ‘Wooden Heart’”. He told me it was unique, a combination of spoken word and music.
What it actually was, was a man with a gritty voice, speaking with a particular meter and intensity that was hard for me to listen to, overlaid by disproportionately loud strains of plaintive guitar. It wasn’t really my style. It set my teeth on edge a little. But I did listen, because my son wanted me to. And behind the gritty, intense vocal performance I heard words that rocked me to my core:
Nik: We’re all born to broken people on their most honest day of living
and since that first breath,
we’ll need grace that we’ve never given.
And my dreams are sails that I point towards my true north,
stretched thin over my rib bones,
and pray that it gets better
but it won’t,
at least I don’t believe it will.
So I’ve built a wooden heart inside this iron ship,
to sail these blood red seas and find your coasts.
Don’t let these waves wash away your hopes,
this war-ship is sinking,
and I still believe in anchors
pulling fist-fulls of rotten wood from my heart.
I still believe in saviors,
but I know that we are all made out of shipwrecks,
every single board
washed and bound
like crooked teeth on these rocky shores.
So come on and let’s wash each other
with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves
and run up on this beach.
Come on and sew us together,
tattered rags stained forever.
I am the barely living son of a woman and man who barely made it,
but we’re making it,
taped together on borrowed crutches and new starts—
we all have the same holes in our hearts.
And my hopes are weapons that I’m still learning how to use right
but they’re heavy and I’m awkward—always running out of fight
so I’ve carved a wooden heart,
put it in this sinking ship hoping it would help me float
for just a few more weeks,
because I am made out of shipwrecks,
every twisted beam lost and found
like you and me,
scattered out on the sea
I wear this tide like loose skin, rock me to sea
if we hold on tight we’ll hold each other together
and not just be some fools rushing to die in our sleep.
All these machines will rust I promise,
but we’ll still be electric,
shocking each other back to life,
Your hand in mine,
my fingers in your veins connected,
our bones grown together inside
grown stronger in time.
Because our church is made out of shipwrecks
from every hull these rocks have claimed
but we pick ourselves up,
and try and grow better through the change.
So come on y’all and let’s wash each other
with tears of joy and tears of grief,
and fold our lives like crashing waves
and run upon this beach.
come on and sew us together,
we’re just tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember
Dara: Wow, right?! I came home and looked up the lyrics and read them again and again. And it really got me to thinking – someone was speaking truth to me, but it was presented in a way not familiar to me, so I very nearly didn’t even listen. If you won’t listen, you’ll never hear, and we all need so desperately to be heard, don’t we? We need someone to hear not only what we are saying with our mouths, but the larger truths we’re speaking from deep inside.
One of my family members with dementia says to me, “Do I give a donation today?” She says it every day. Every. Day. It’s easy to hear that literally and respond literally – “No, it isn’t church day today. We go to church on Sunday.” It’s harder to hear the truth behind it, “I want to give what I have. How can I help?”
A friend says in her voice message, “Hey, sorry I missed you. Give me a call whenever. No big deal.” In the tone of her voice I can hear, “I need to connect. I need you. Please help.”
Jesus also asks us to listen carefully and hear the truth. He often taught in parables, and asked the listeners to look deeper for meaning and truth – “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” – this phrase appears over and over in the Gospels, connected with hearing truth that is hidden within the words spoken. The Message translation says it this way, “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”
And the truth needs to be heard, whether it’s cloaked in King James language, or a heavy accent, or buried behind gritty vocals and a sad guitar, or whispered by a child, or shouted by someone who doesn’t think like you do, or whether you find it, unexpectedly written large on your own God-inhabited heart in quiet moments alone. You’ll have to do a lot of listening to hear the truth. And when you listen, you will have to listen hard. You will have to listen with your heart.