Occasionally while in the car I play CD Roulette, pulling something at blind random out of the multi-case and playing it. This morning on my way down to visit a friend, the CD that came up was Styx’s “Cornerstone.” And the first song that came up was “Lights.”
Instantly, I was transported back to when I was barely into double digits, because this was the song we used in our teen service, many many (many) years ago, singing it as we walked into the synagogue. The lyrics – not just the lyrics but the timing – are embedded in my brain and the moment the music started, despite not having heard it for years (decades?) I was able to sing along without missing a word.
(Those of you who know me know that this is no small miracle. I can barely remember my own phone number)
Slow down, you’re moving too fast
You seem afraid it won’t last
Take my advice, go straight and settle down
Thank you for caring, but tonight the lights will take me where I long to be
Just like a thousand nights before
I can’t explain, it gives me something
The song’s about performing, about not being wanting to “slow down,” but instead living for the moment they’re up on the stage, where the lights invigorate them. But for us, the lights were metaphorical, and the sing became about being called to do the hard thing because it’s the good thing, rather than sitting back and letting other people do the work, or risking the work not getting done at all. About how that work rewards the worker, even when it also costs us. As such, it seemed remarkably apt for our service.
(And I loved the look on peoples’ faces when I told them we’d been ‘allowed’ to create a Sabbath service entirely based around (admittedly soft) rock music.)
And yeah, after we practiced it so many times, the original meaning of the song faded, until I had to actually look at the lyrics to remember, oh yeah, that’s what it was originally about.
Looking back, I find myself wondering how much that song helped shape me, and my sense of what is needful, and what is required of me. Or did I reshape the song around what I had been taught to believe? Most likely, the two met somewhere in the middle, where nature and nurture slam into each other and produce a human being.
Thank you, CD roulette, for reminding me that not only can I do this, but that the work itself is part of the reward.
Tonight the lights will take me where I long to be…
And the beautiful cherry on the top of this moment was the fact that the song came up, totally at random, on the first night of Hannukah, a holiday about standing up and fighting for what you need to survive (and thrive), where the symbol of that survival are… yep, lights.
Give me the lights, precious lights
Give me lights
Give me my hope, give me my energy
You can turn the wrong into right…
(Lyrics © Wixen Music Publishing)