instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ribands of blue

Our text today comes from the First Book of Kings. (That would be B.B.'s lyrics. Albert's compose the Second Book, Freddie's the Third.)

We begin on the tonic with:
Nobody loves me...
In three words, all the longing and fear of the human heart is captured. The happiness that we seek as our final end is a matter of love. To find someone who, on finding us, loves us. There can be no greater loneliness than to be unloved, and man is by nature social, even as is the Godhead in Whose image man is created.

Yet this lyric is not one of complete despair:
...but my mother
A mother means you belong somewhere, belong to someone. And though the literal sense here is of a biological mother, we can appropriate the allegorical sense in which the mother is the Blessed Mother, or equivalently Holy Mother Church. Read this way, the lyric is the plaint of the martyr, of the one alone in a society whose only support is spiritual.

The text, however, continues:
And she could be jiving too
With this, the despair overwhelms. The thought of being so unlovable even your own mother can only pretend to love you, that is soul-crushing.

It does, of course, echo Isaiah 49:15:
Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.
But is this message of hope really available to one who doubts his own mother's love for him? For some, the objective fact that God loves them is like a nut inside a shell they lack the strength to crack. In these cases, repetition will not help; it might even hurt, perhaps driving the one who despairs to think, "Since I cannot see the truth of what you say for myself, it must not be true of myself."

And indeed, the verse concludes:
Now you see why I act so funny, baby,
When you do the things you do.
Again, the literal sense of a romantic relationship expresses a spiritual truth: those among us who feel unloved, perhaps even unlovable, will act funny when we do things that presume they do not feel that way. Our repeating our own actions more emphatically won't help, any more than speaking slowly and loudly to someone who doesn't understand your language helps.