This week’s Spirit is about waking up to what is happening in the world around us. It is easy to put off unpleasant issues and can be challenging to convince others of a problem we see. Maggie Rogers’ song “Alaska” is about taking a challenging path alone, sometimes without the people we love, and moving forward with our eyes wide open.
Key lines: I was walking through icy streams / That took my breath away / Moving slowly through westward water / Over glacial plains / And I walked off you / And I walked off an old me / Oh me oh my I thought it was a dream / So it seemed / And now, breathe deep
Questions: What issues or problems do you recognize in your school or community? What woke you up to the issue? How did the problem touch you? When have you been asleep to a situation or issue that mattered to others? How can you help people around you wake up to issues important to you?
The last Sunday of the liturgical year celebrates Jesus as Christ the King, who promises to judge us on whether we do the works of mercy. Catholic social teaching challenges us to these same actions. We can all take part in helping those who need food, clothing, water, shelter whether it’s donating resources or helping out at a shelter or food kitchen. When Imaginary Future sings out that “we are the love we give,” they are calling to us to look beyond ourselves and at our neighbors who may need greater support.
Key lines: This is not some one-way mirror / Looking out at the world we’re in / We are the love, we are the love we give / I’m starting to see it clearer / We belong to those who live / We are the love, we are the love we give / We are the love, we are the love we give
Questions: What economic and social issues do you recognize in your community and school? How can you help to raise awareness of these issues? When have
you needed a helping hand?
Sunday’s gospel is about investing in our talents. SPIRIT encourages us to look at our talents and gifts and to use them. Who benefits from our gifts, who beside ourselves? Do we use our gifts to enrich our spirit, team, and community? The song “Champion” is about how champions are forged out of their experiences and choices.
Key lines: I got rage every day, on the inside / The only thing I do is sit around and kill time / I’m trying to blow out the pilot light / I’m trying to blow out the light / I’m just young enough to still believe, still believe / But young enough not to know what to believe in / …If I can live through this / I can do anything / …Champion, champion / And I can do anything
Questions: What skills or talents have you worked at improving? What are the benefits and sacrifices you’ve have made to develop these talents? When have you had to quit something you loved? How do you encourage other people to use their talents?
SPIRIT asks us, “When do you pray?” Our lives are often busy with school, work, family, and friends, constantly in motion. We often forget to slow down and snatch a moment of reflection. Slowing down (even a 15-minute walk) can often be a prayerful and centering. It helps us to clear our heads and open our hearts to who and what is around us. Nick Cave’s song “Breathless” is about opening our eyes to the world and beholding the beauty we live in.
Key lines: The wind circles among the trees / And it bangs about the new-made leaves / For it is breathless without you / The fox chases the rabbit round / The rabbit hides beneath the ground / For he is defenseless without you / The sky of daytime dies away / And all the earthly things they stop to play / For we are all breathless without you / I listen to my juddering bones / The blood in my veins and the wind in my lungs /And I am breathless without you
Questions: When have you been so busy that you missed out on something? What helps you slow down, clear your head and open your eyes and heart? What is prayerful about this? How often do you pray? Who do you consider to be wise? What makes them wise?
Our first impressions are often stereotypes. We make assumptions based on people’s appearance, how they talk, and how they act. We have to look beyond what our eyes see. The song “Go As You Are” reminds us to keep our eyes open to see who the people we encounter day by day really are.
Key lines: Everyone’s got a story / With no reason for all the rhyme / We fall just a few pounds of glory / I can’t justify all the time / But, go as you are / Just don’t come back the same / If you don’t get too far / You’ve got no one to blame
Questions: What stereotypes exist in your school and community? When has someone stereotyped you? How did this make you feel? When have you made an embarrassing assumption about someone? What happened as a consequence of this assumption? How did you fix it?
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus teaches us the way to love God is to love one another. It doesn’t matter who we love, what religion we adhere to, what color our skin is, where we are on the economic scale. What matters the most is that we treat each other with respect, fairness, and kindness. The song “Here For You” is a promise to always stand by each other in the face of ignorance. We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to be there for each other. In doing this, we create a safe community for all.
Key lines: When you feel you’ve had enough, and you wasted all your love / I’ll be here for you, here for you / When the dog is at his bone, and you run away from home / I’ll be here for you, here for you / Well I’m here for you, I’m here for you, you, you
Questions: What types of disrespect do you see in your school, community, country? What do you think can be done to challenge people who like to exclude others? When have you showed mercy to someone who wronged you? When has someone shown you mercy?
Not all the people in our communities and nation have the same access to education, healthcare, and justice. This week’s SPIRIT spotlights Appalachia and the effects of mountaintop mining. The song “Sea Change” asks us why are we closing our eyes to the plight of people in our midst who are poor when we are all in this world together.
Key lines: So where will we go when the waters threaten to wash us away? / And all of our sons and our daughters wilt in the heat of the day? / I feel the sun draw nearer, I feel the sea start to rise / Who’s looking back in the mirror? Why are they closing —Why are they closing their eyes? / …Why are we closing our eyes?
Questions: When have you closed your eyes to a problem in your community or school? When have you opened your eyes to a problem? What did you learn or do about it? What duties does government have for the people it serves? How do you balance serving God and following the laws of our country? What issues make you struggle to answer?