Monday, August 23, 2010

Anxiety, Stevie Wonder, and Some Assembly Required

Yesterday, at Mass, these words leapt out at me:

"Protect us from all anxiety ...."

I hear the words every Sunday. Right after the Lord's Prayer:

Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Some days I find that certain prayers or parts of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are like a familiar song.  Instead of really hearing the words, I feel a rhythm: "Ba dum, ba dum, ba dum. Ba dum ba dum, Amen."

Other times (better times) I don't just feel a rhythm, I enter it. Instead of riding a wave I dive into the deep, break through the water, stop skimming and start swimming. And I hear things in a new way. 

Yesterday I was struck by the fact that our Lord doesn't simply "wish" we would avoid anxiety-- He actually directs us to pray for protection from the evil of it.

and protect us from all anxiety

Protect us. From all anxiety.

Switching gears for a moment:

The other day, I assembled a futon couch. As I tweeted, "assemble-it-yourself" furniture has been known to cause divorces. However, this time, Atticus and I didn't risk our marriage. I tackled the project with my girls (because Atticus wasn't home) and we cranked up some music. Music is such a mysterious gift, isn't it? That day, it was a fun mix that a friend had just given me. How can you get tense when you're listening to Stevie Wonder singing For Once In My Life?

And, it's not just good accompaniment for furniture assembly. For me, it's a spiritual song, though my friend didn't know that.

For once unafraid
I can go where life leads me
Somehow I know I'll be strong

At some point in my conversion, Stevie and God converged on me one day:

For once I can touch
What my heart used to dream of
Long before I knew

and they were both talking about Him.

Someone warm like you
Would make my dreams come true.

And about me:

For once in my life
I won't let sorrow hurt me
Not like it's hurt me before

That day, I knew I'd never hear that song in the same way again.

For once I can say
This is mine, you can't take it
Long as I know I have love
I can make it

Music does this. Leads us and enlightens. It shows us something new, shines light on a dark corner, jolts us into a new vision.

And prayers do it, too. Sometimes, a prayer I've heard countless times is inexplicably a new lyric, a profoundly played note that wrenches a corner of my being and is forever changed for me, forever changing me.

Protect us from all anxiety.
As we wait in joyful hope

A cd from a friend, time with my daughters, cheap furniture that needs to be assembled, Stevie, a familiar prayer walloping me anew -- the simplest things can be the most mysterious.

"All art aspires to the condition of music." ~~ Walter Pater

"Anxiety comes from an irregulated desire to be delivered from the evil we experience. Therefore, above all else, calm and compose your mind. Gently and quietly pursue your aim." ~~ St. Francis de Sales


Margaret in Minnesota said...

Karen, I have had many a grace-related moment that was inspired by Stevie Wonder.

Plus I just feel cool when I listen to him.

Karen E. said...


Skysaw said...

Stevie has been one of my favorites for many years. He may not, in his beliefs and personal life, be an ideal Catholic or adherent of the natural law, and his lyrics may not always convey Truth, but you can tell from his music that the man at least loves, and loves a lot. He is a force of supernature.

Margaret Mary Myers said...

Thank you for the St. Francis de Sales quote. He is always so inspiring. Wow. We can be even worse than what he said here. He said:
"Anxiety comes from an irregulated desire to be delivered from the evil we experience..." I would add: and the evils we imagine might happen in the future. tut tut. :)