Saturday, October 20, 2012

Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

When my Dad said he liked a U2 song, I about fell out of my chair.  I was in my twenties at the time and it was totally unexpected.  This is a man with a doctorate in Theology who's biggest venture into the world of "secular" music is The Carpenters and the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire.  When I was a child, I remember once in awhile he would put on a Johnny Cash album--never on Sundays and always with caveats.   Johnny was a drinker and paid a price.  Johnny was rebellious and got in trouble.  Just love that baritone voice though.  None like it!  Don't take your guns to town son, leave your guns at home...I fell in to a burning ring of fire, I went down, down, down...

When I was in high school, he found a Bad English cassette tape in my room.  Remember the song "When I See You Smile?"  I had bought the album for that song, but as it turned out, I really liked the whole album and listened to it constantly on my Walkman. Bad English lived up to their name.  They were rocky and rebellious and the band members were slick and had big hair.  My Dad approached me in the living room with the cassette in his hand.
"Do you know what that four letter word is?" he asked me with a scowl on his face as he pointed to the song title "Heaven is a Four Letter Word."
I thought about it for a moment.  I could hear the line from the song in my head:  Hey girl, haven't you heard?  Heaven is a four letter word?
"Love?" I offered up innocently.
He sniffed. "You're very naive, Hope.  I guess that's a good thing."  He snapped the cassette closed and walked away.
"Well, I might be naive, but YOU need to get your mind out of the gutter!"
Thank goodness I didn't say that. I would still be grounded. Or dead.
So, several years ago, when he announced he liked a U2 song, I held my breath.  I wondered which one...
Could it be Sunday Bloody Sunday?  (He is Irish.)
It's a Beautiful Day? (He is optimistic.)
Where The Streets Have No Name? (Possible.  Isn't this about heaven?)
"I really like the song Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. Now, I don't agree with Bono's message, but I really like the song.  It is very haunting - the guitars, the chorus.  It's just a really good song."
I nodded and said, "Hmm."  My response sounded like I was agreeing, but not whole-heartedly just in case it was a set-up.  Maybe he was trying to figure out if I had traded in my Sound of Music album for the Dark Side of the Moon?  Maybe this was a test to see if I had I gone "Amy Grant" musically, in other words-- crossed over without bringing the cross over?
I stayed quiet.  My silence was more out of shock than anything else.  My Dad listened to a U2 song?  What happened to the Bill Gaither Trio?  Sandy Patty?  Mozart? And what did my Dad mean when he said he "I don't agree with Bono's message..."? I didn't ask.  I just tucked that comment away. But if I had to guess what my Dad meant it would be this:
Bono may not have found what HE is looking for, but my Dad has, namely - he has found God.
Then today, I heard the song on the radio and that lingering question popped up in mind.  I heard my Dad in my head saying he liked the song, but didn't agree with Bono.  Good song Bono.  Really good.  Your voice is perfect.  Guitars are great. But your message is well, not so good.  Actually, it's bleak.  Hopeless. Directionless.
Bono lifts his silvery sunglasses and looks my Dad square in the eyes. (Oh no! My Dad and Bono are arguing in my head!) With the same calm intensity Bono uses to raise money for children in Africa he says:
Yes sir, I know, the song is pretty depressing.  You got that right. But was there ever a time when you felt like me?  EVER felt hopeless?  Ever wondered Have I really found what I am looking for?  Is God really there?  Is he listening?  When I die, will he really be there waiting for me? I wrote that song when I was doubting, struggling, you know, yearning.  You mean you never doubt? Never have, never will? 
Bono had a charity fundraiser to get to in Bangladesh, so he didn't have time to stay and hear my Father's answer.  He slipped his glasses back down on to his face and slinked off to his private plane like a jaguar.
I am sure my Dad would say he has had doubts.  He is human! And he has definitely suffered tragedy, the kind that makes you question God.  He and my Mom lost their first child at birth and I am named accordingly (Hope). I've just never heard my Dad share his doubts or struggles along his faith journey.  He has always been so faith-full and trusting and believing and well, certain. I do remember once, he told me that for a few years he went through what he called his "mystical years" reading Thomas Merton, John of the Cross and others.  It was probably the 1960's and mysticism was as close as he was going to get to a mental trip, since alcohol, acid or Woodstock were not an option.  Sure, my Dad looms larger in my mind spiritually than he probably is.  He is AMAZING.  (But doesn't every little Daddy's girl think that?)  He knows the Bible so well he could probably write it down verse for verse.  He's preached, prayed, and proselytized.  He's taught Sunday School and written a "How To" book for other Christians. He's sung, played piano, organ, and I think even banjo at church functions inside the sanctuary and out.  He's been the voice of God in countless school plays (There is the Johnny Cash baritone voice and then about two octaves lower there is my Dad's baritone - a.k.a. the voice of God.)  Don't misunderstand me - he is not pompous, stalwart, stoic or judgmental.  He just appears to me to be spiritually superhuman.  Impenetrable.  Unshakable.  And sometimes I wish he was more human.  Sometimes I wish he would let his spiritual hair down.  Shake in his faith boots just a little? Sometimes I wish he would admit that he hasn't always been sure he's found what he is looking for. That he feels like Bono does sometimes. That he feels like I do sometimes.
I know I am God's child. I know he loves me.  I know he holds me in the palm of his hand.  I know, I know, I KNOW! But sometimes the knowing doesn't satisfy the longing.  Sometimes I hear or see or read or watch something that makes me say - Whoa!  What if this is all just a big, long, perpetuated Sunday School story that really isn't true?  Have I really found what I am looking for or is what I've found just an illusion? A manufactured man-made myth? Then I read the Bible and a verse will pop out at and say, "Hang in there Hope."  Or someone will say or do something that brings me back into the fold.  Like a lost sheep, I am led back with a loving hand. And I believe again.  I hope.  I trust.  I find what I am looking for.
But sometimes it is not that simple.
Sometimes I have to admit I feel like Bono.
And sometimes I wish my Dad would admit that he does too.

-Hope Horner
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Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
I have climbed highest mountain
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you

I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
It burned like fire
This burning desire

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
Well yes I'm still running

You broke the bonds and you
Loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believed it

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for...
Music and Lyrics by U2

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