St. Francis de Sales, the great spiritual director, believed that advancing in the spiritual life begins with self knowledge. He echoes the Greeks, saying "know thyself." On Ash Wednesday in 1612, he preached a sermon saying, "The first elements of a knowledge of God are in the knowledge of self."
When I listened to this wonderful song at the urging of a priest friend, I thought of St. Francis' admonition. It's only when I've "been to me" and seen myself in the light of God's grace, that I can truly begin to grow in the spiritual life. Too many people run from the Lord trying to hide in the pleasures and distractions of the world. Only when they stop running from the Hound of Heaven, and turn toward Him can they see themselves in His image and likeness.
This song is hauntingly beautiful and filled with the sad truth of the emptiness of a worldly life. Another "translation" of its meaning is the film, It's a Wonderful Life. When George Bailey sees his life reflected through his guardian angel Clarence he learns how important and valuable his "cursed" life was. And remember what happens next? He runs home and embraces his family. It's at the heart of the family, the domestic church, where true meaning exists.