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Sunday, May 15, 2011

"I've Never Been to Me" -- Do you know yourself?

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.


Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a biography that I read years ago about a famous opera star who was the mistress of a very wealthy man. He forced her to abort the child she had by him - the only child she ever had. Years later after he left her to marry another famous woman, an Amercian, she died alone. How tragic. It would have been better had she kept the child or found a good home for it, and let him leave her. Though he had a lot of money, he was worthless.

Robert Kumpel said...

Mary Ann:

I apologize if this sounds offensive, but rest assured that is not my intent.

My brother and i used to hear this song on the radio and we would fall over laughing. While I cannot vouch for whatever "Charlene" meant by "never been to me", suffice to say, I never saw it as seeing herself as God sees her. To me, this song always represented the narcissism and self-indulgence of the late 70's and early 80's. "Into me" sounded like something someone would learn at an EST seminar.

Obviously, "Charlene" (sans last name) WAS trying to say something about how empty her life was after pursuing everything that seemed self-fulfilling, but the breathy-singing, the soap-opera-ish melody (heavy on "sensitive" piano) and the repetition of "into me" just make this song seem like one more relic of an age that has brought us where we are now--teetering on disaster. Of course, that's just my opinion.

Maybe more of us should have listened to the lyrics more seriously--I dunno. I'm sorry, but I still can't stop laughing when I hear this. It's like watching an early re-run of Dallas.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Hey Robert,

Maybe it's a male/female thing. Although the one who urged me to listen was a priest. The song reminds me of the Hound of Heaven. But you can definitely put a narcissitic spin on it. I guess it's, as they say, different strokes....

But think what a blessing if it could lead some people to question their worldly lifestyle.

Besides, let's face it, you are a loveable oddball. I'll bet your girls would like it unless you prejudice them against it. ;)

Robert Kumpel said...

It depends on which daughter. My 13 year old would roll her eyes, (she likes classical), my 8 year old would scream "turn it off" (she likes danceable pop), my 5 year old would probably love it (she's very sentimental) and my three year old would probably start singing with it off key.

Thank you for not taking offense. I am an oddball.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I don't take offense easily, especially when I know no offense is intended. Besides, I hope I never take myself that seriously. What offends me is blasphemy against Jesus and His mother.