Music and the Gospel: “Guiding Light,” Mumford & Sons

This week’s SPIRIT talks about the expectations we place on ourselves and that others place upon us. High school is a stressful time that challenges us to balance academics, social lives, work obligations, and activities like sports or music. At times, all these responsibilities can feel like weight of the world on our shoulders and get in the way of making good decisions about grades, relationships, or even physical/mental health. The song “Guiding Light” is about paying attention to the expectations that guide us and those around us. It’s about recognizing that we aren’t perfect, but that we can also serve as beacons of light to our family and friends.

Key Lyrics: If we come back and we’re broken / Unworthy and ashamed / Give us something to believe in / And you know we’ll go your way / ‘Cause I know I had it all on the line / But don’t just sit with folded hands and become blind / ‘Cause even when there is no star in sight / You’ll always be my only guiding light

Questions: What expectations do you have of yourself? What expectations do others have for you? When have these expectations clashed? How do they influence the way you make decisions? How do you balance them out? Who guides you? Who can you guide?

Music and the Gospel: “Hearts on Fire,” Gavin James

Some relationships bring out the best in us; they teach us compassion and forgiveness. Other relationships challenge our values and perceptions of who we are and what we want. Gavin James’ song “Hearts on Fire” is about relationships and the challenges that occur when we’re pulled in different directions.

Key lines: Strangers in my head / Keep making me forget / Where I came from…/ There’s madness in eyes / We’re too blind to realize / Just what we’ve done… / I feel it taking a hold / I feel a rush in my bones / For you / I think we’re caught in a fight / Can we make it alright / With all these shadows on our backs / How can we take it back and / How can we love with our hearts on fire

Questions: What values do you look for in relationships? When has a relationship challenged you? How did you resolve the challenges? What keeps you centered when facing the demands of others? What does loving someone mean?

Music and The Gospel: “Something Just Like This,” The Chainsmokers, ft. Coldplay, 1st Sunday of Lent

School, work, extra curricular activities—all come with expectations: that we get good grades, do a good job, and perform at the top of our game. But what do we do when the pressure builds up and challenges the expectations we have of ourselves? Something Just Like This reminds us that we don’t have to be superheroes to make ourselves and others happy.

Key Lines: She said, where’d you wanna go? / How much you wanna risk? / I’m not looking for somebody / With some superhuman gifts / Some superhero / Some fairytale bliss / Just something I can turn to / Somebody I can miss

Questions: What expectations do you have of yourself? What expectations do others have of you? When have you felt pressure to meet these expectations? How do you handle this? How do you define happiness?

Music and the Gospel: “Chasing Shadows,” Santigold, 1st Sunday of Lent

Santigold says that her song “Chasing Shadows” is about being “caught in the web we spin around ourselves…as quickly as we reach our goals, our gaze shifts to those still looming…we judge ourselves harshly for not being further ont he path” (Pitchfork). High school is a stressful time. Our own expectations and the expectations of those around us put the weight of the world on our shoulders. It’s important to recognize when we need to slow down, when we or someone around us might not be making the best decisions, whether it’s about grades, relationships, or even physical health.

Key Lyrics: Maybe I won’t get it wrong, no patience for myself / Only this is ideas come old, I’m living on the shelf / I will follow in thinkin’ the long way if my standards hold up

Questions: What expectations do you have for yourself? What expectations do others have for you? Which expectations influence the way you make decisions? How do you balance these expectations?

Music and the Gospel: “Hands of Man,” Django Django; 1st Sunday of Lent

Lent is a time to reflect on our lives — what habits do I have, how am I acting within my relationships, and where am I spending my time? Then we ask, are these habits, relationships and use of time putting me in closer relationship with my dear neighbors and with God, or are they pulling me away? Throughout our lives we are on a journey that wanders sometimes closer and at other times farther from God. This is why it is important for us to take stock of where we are and to whom we extend a hand — and make adjustments as needed.

Key Lyrics: Open up your eyes and start to dream / Sit down and think what it could be / Walk back and take the hand of man

Questions: What does a life that prioritizes my relationship with God look like? How do I speak to and treat others? How do I let others treat me? How do I treat all of God’s creation? If I close my eyes and dream, as the song suggests, what does the world I imagine look like? How is it like the kingdom of God? What one thing can I commit to throughout Lent to bring our world closer to this image?