I am renewing my (perhaps cheating) use of the Friday 5. This weeks is from f.riday5.com. I have to admit, it’s a clever way to get a url that is owned by someone else. This week, the author of that site is celebrating Bruce Springsteen’s birthday this past week, so the questions come from the lyrics of five of his songs.
- Hey, what else can we do now, except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair? (“Thunder Road,” 1975)
- Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse? (“The River,” 1980)
- So tell me who I see when I look in your eyes: is that you, baby, or just a brilliant disguise? (“Brilliant Disguise,” 1987)
- Do you think what I’m asking’s too much? (“Human Touch,” 1992)
- Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart? (“Life Itself,” 2009)
1. Hey, what else can we do now, except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair? (“Thunder Road,” 1975)
I admit, I don’t know this song, so I don’t know what The Boss was trying to say. In fact, that’s the case for all five of these. I’m going to answer them, anyway, and just interpret the questions however I feel like interpreting them. This question takes on different meanings depending on my state in life. I have a feeling that this line was originally expressing a sense of carefree freedom or resignation. As a man in formation for the priesthood, though, I think part of the journey really is God asking me just to sit back and receive the experience as it comes. Now, I don’t think that means I am to be fully passive. The instructions to Seminarians from the Church actually clearly say that the primary responsibility for my formation falls to me. Rather, I think I am to let go of control of the things that I’m not meant to control. In some areas of life, I find that easy. In others, not so much. There have been some decisions made about my path to the priesthood (even after I started seminary) that frustrated me; they can be a bit of a challenge. There are two that come to mind that didn’t go my way that forced me to sit down, shut up, and let those in charge make the decisions. When Bishop Choby first accepted me, I was eager to start in the next academic year, which was a month or two away. Bishop Choby asked me to wait and begin in January. That represented only a 6 month delay in the beginning of my time in formation, but it created a one-year delay in ordination. For a guy who had rejected God’s call for 15 years then spent 5 years trying to tie up loose ends and find a diocese that wanted me, that was a tough pill to swallow, but I did. When I got to seminary, I tried to convince the faculty to let me do the Philosophy program in 1 1/2 years instead of 2 1/2. Now that they know me, I have a hunch everyone involved would wholeheartedly agree that I could handle the workload and material. However, at the time, they declined; it didn’t much matter because Bishop later told me that he would have overruled them if they had accepted. C’est la vie. Like I said, God wants to make sure that I’m ready to let other people make the decisions.
2. Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse? (“The River,” 1980)
I’m gonna take dream, here, as a goal for the future, not a nighttime imagining. I have had a pile of dreams that failed to come true – and that never will come true if my current path continues. To be fair, those dreams were nowhere near as big as the path my life has taken. There was a time I dreamed of professional acting. I often joke that it was prevented by this nagging habit I have of eating on a regular basis. While I was running with all my energy from God’s plan for me, I also pursued (with every intention of making my life out of each) cheffing, teaching, computers (just to make a fortune and, I’m ashamed to say, live a life of debauchery and dissipation). All of these dreams for a life included a beautiful wife (giving up girls was a major reason that I was so uninterested in being a priest originally, but that’s a story for another time) Now, as I look back today, I am not sorry I did any of those. At times, I admit I’m a little annoyed that I’m going to be pushing 40 before I’m ordained (that’s SO old!), but to be honest, I am absolutely confident that each experience I had, both good and bad, virtuous and vicious, joyful and painful, will serve to give me the human tools to be a far better priest. He has a way of making that work. So, no, none of them are lies; each of them has formed (even sometimes malformed) me into the man I am today. That formation and the corrections of the malformation will be what allows me to serve the people of God better than I think I ever would have if I had immediately heeded the call.
3. So tell me who I see when I look in your eyes: is that you, baby, or just a brilliant disguise? (“Brilliant Disguise,” 1987)
SERIOUSLY? Now this one just isn’t fair. It’s both, ok!? I admit, I tend to keep people at a distance, and I’m not going to go into details on that here, but there are a few close to me who know why. Different people will see different versions of me. Some do see a brilliant disguise, but I am shedding that more and more over the last year or so. The habits that make up that disguise are difficult to overcome at times, but new habits will come to replace them. Even without the disguise, though, people see (and will continue to see different – let’s say layers instead of versions – of me. And, y’know what? That’s a good thing. Everybody is not meant to be in that most intimate spot. Perhaps I will write a blog entry about that soon. I learned a lot from some reflection from Archbishop Hughes and from reading a book called Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rievaulx (If you click there to buy the book, Amazon will give me a few cents – every little bit helps).
4. Do you think what I’m asking’s too much? (“Human Touch,” 1992)
Warning: Overly Pious Answer Alert!
You’ve been warned. The only one who is really asking something big of me at the moment is God. Is it too much. Abso-freaking-lutely. But the nice thing is that He will fill in where I can’t do it. I know that sounds like a canned answer. Is it true? Yup. Do I believe it? Sometimes, but that’s why seminary is so darned long.
5. Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart? (“Life Itself,” 2009)
Instead of answering this one, here, I’m going to direct your attention to a post I will be writing in the next few weeks (I hope) with some reflections offered by the Theology of the Body by Pope Saint John Paul II. His reflections that make up that catechesis are, in my estimation, on of the most in depth discussions on the truths of human intimacy and sexuality – from a real perspective rather than the materialist, spiritualist, or hedonist perspective that such discussions seem to always be from the world – in the modern age (and perhaps ever).