Background Music

    I hadn’t heart it since I was a teenager, but there is was, in the background at a McDonald’s. “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do is to save every day till eternity passes away just to spend them with you.”
    To be frank, when I was a teenager I thought of this as an annoying song. The melody with some of the words got stuck in my head and wouldn’t go away, like a soda pop jingle, like a worm eating into my brain. But this time, with the difference of some 40 years, it seemed different. “I’ve looked around enough to know that you’re the one I want to go through time with.”
    I have a friend in a rock band who has actually made money from his music. He caught the difference too. This now-old love song was about a desire for something eternal. The desires expressed in today’s lyrics seem much more immediate. The eternal desire is missing.
    It’s not that today’s songs are about sex but the older ones weren’t. It’s that sex in popular songs then was seen as part of a desire for lasting union.
    It’s not hard to take a real love song and make it be about our desire for the Lord, with whom we would spend “every day till eternity passes away.” Consider, too, the Song of Songs, where human desire is an allegory for the love between God and his people. Sages from as far back as Plato have known that all desire is, ultimately, for the Lord. Augustine says this is true because God made us this way, giving us restless hearts. At the end of the first paragraph of his Confessions he writes: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”
    And that’s an eternal union that never passes away.
    Out & About. This Sunday at 9:30 a.m. I am teaching a class on the Song of Songs at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, 5100 Ross Ave., Dallas. I will be preaching there on the following Sunday, January 28.


 At a conference in a rainy city, damp and cold but not freezing, I was carrying around with me, as one does, hat and scarf and gloves and umbrella. After the final event of the day, I realized I did not have my umbrella. I looked in my backpack: no gloves either. I found the umbrella in the book exhibit. The gloves were nowhere.
    The next day, on a chance, I returned to the previous day’s lunchspot. I opened the door, and before I could say anything, she said, “Did you leave your gloves here yesterday?”
    “You have made my day,” I said. She opened a cabinet and returned them to their grateful owner.
    What was most wonderful was not the finding of the gloves but being offered them before I had a chance even to ask.
    Which parable is this?
    She lost a coin; she swept her room clean; she found the coin; she rejoiced.
    He took his inheritance and ran; he came to the end of his wits; he practiced to himself the speech he would make to his father; before he could get the words out, his father embraced him.
    There is an overflowingness in God. His goodness races out towards us. He gives us what we want sometimes even before we can say a word.
    Out & About. This Sunday I will be preaching at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, 5100 Ross Ave., Dallas, at 8 and 10:30 a.m. At 9:30 a.m. I will begin a five-week class on the Song of Songs.
    Saturday, Jan. 20, at 1 p.m. I begin a five-session course in Christian Ethics, offered at the Stanton Center at the cathedral. Each class is three hours, with one class per month through May. This course requires registration; info here.  
    The lunch place, by the way, was Garden Bar in Portland, Ore., and I had eaten the Garden Bar-B-Q salad. The research continues.

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The Rev. Canon Victor Lee Austin. Ph.D., is the Theologian-in-Residence for the diocese and is the author of several books including, "Friendship: The Heart of Being Human" and "A Post-Covid Catechesis.: