I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many places
Searchin’ her eyes, lookin, for traces
Of what I’m dreamin’ of
Hoping to find a friend and a lover
I’ll bless the day I discover,
You—lookin’ for love
Music has been a huge part of my life since I was a small child. I love the rhythms and rhymes of almost all forms and styles of music, instrumental, choral, solo, classical, country, rock, and even some hip-hop. I can appreciate the art of composing rap but I listen to very little of it. But my very most favorite is bluegrass—both traditional and “new grass.” Part of the way I relate to situations, something that just comes naturally for me, is that I am reminded of lyrics which seem to fit—sometimes less than more—what is happening at the moment. At times this is a blessing, although I have been told by others it can be a curse. I have even considered writing a treatise in which popular music, or perhaps just one song of whatever genre, is subjected to a theological exploration. Maybe someday I will do that.
As I have been reading, rereading, and reflecting on the younger son in our parable, the words
of a song, made famous as part of the sound track of the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy, have echoed in my head. I included the chorus as the opening lines, as I am sure some/many either never heard the song or have long since forgotten it. The story line of the film concerns a young man from Spur, Texas (in the Diocese of Northwest Texas, by the way) who leaves home and travels to Pasadena, Texas, to make enough money in order to return home, buy some land, and settle down. He discovers the nightlife of Gilley’s, at that time the largest indoor honky-tonk in the world, and begins a stormy relationship with a local girl. We never know if his dreams are fulfilled, but he does lose himself along the way and does have a homecoming of sorts with his girlfriend. I would not make too much of a parallel between the parable and the movie, but the song offers a poignant pointer for us.
Younger Brother rejected the love of his family and community, and especially his father, and set out “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places”. How often have I acted in exactly the same way? My leavings have not been as dramatic as Younger Brother, but I have wandered far from my spiritual home at times, seeking the unconditional love that I need most from those who can only give me conditional love.
I suspect I am not the only one reading our books on the parable of “the Man with Two Sons” who has “erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep” as the traditional words of the Confession of the Book of Common Prayer say. Today would be a good time to begin the return, to acknowledge that we are in a far away country, starving for what our Father has to offer, and not wait another day. Whether the journey has been lengthy or simply a few steps, we all can use a reminder that we are the beloved, that the Father welcomes us home. Advent offers us the opportunity to prepare for the celebration of the Incarnation, and part of that homework is cleaning out our interior heart through self-examination and offering ourselves to God once again. I am now using the song as my Advent examen; how have I been looking for love in all the wrong places?