At a point during the U2 shows that I saw last summer, little pieces of paper floated from the rafters like tender snow flurries. I willed one to come my way, but none did. Lucky for me, one of my students, who worked at the venue as an usher, saw them too. When one came his way, he thought that he'd better pick one up for Miss Moran. Back at school this past fall, he took his wallet out and said, 'I have something for you.' It was one of the paper flakes that descended from the heaven of the United Center to cover the audience in ... "The Message?" I had no idea what that was, but soon discovered that it is a contemporary language translation of the Bible written by Eugene Peterson.
Recommended to me on YouTube was this short film that 'documents the friendship between Bono ... revolving around their common interest in the Psalms.' The conversation took place at Peterson's Montana home when Bono was on tour last year as evidenced by his blond locks (Bono worked the tour as a blond ... it worked for me). Naturally, the scholar had no idea who the rock star was but was brought up to speed fairly quickly. Peterson says of "40," based on Psalm 40 (I can't remember a show when U2 didn't play this one): "I think it's one of his best ones. He sings it a lot. I mean, he does this a lot. It's one of the songs that reaches into the hurt and disappointment and difficulty of being a human being. It acknowledges that in language that is immediately recognizable. There's something that reaches into the heart of a person and the stuff we all feel but many of us don't talk about."
I am biased because U2 and I go way back ... what Peterson says is what I have always felt, that when U2 performs, they reach into the heart and soul of each person in the arena to make them not only hear the music, but feel it as well. It is euphoric. I had a friend remark to me that it wasn't for the fact that I love Bono that she didn't understand, but for HOW much. And that is it. I've seen U2 countless times, sometimes back to back. And when Bono comes out on stage, I am filled with a joy ... and peace ... that is unparallelled to any other thing that I experience in day to day living. It is my church, I suppose. And he is its messenger. Bono talks to Peterson about being vulnerable to God, not in a bad way, but in a porous and open way. And at a U2 concert, that is how I receive it. How often do we have the opportunity to be truly vulnerable? How many people do we know in our lives that allow us the space to be that? Vulnerability is uncomfortable. Not only for the one who feels it because it is so raw, but for the witness who suffers it and may not understand it.
The tender snow flurries mystery is solved. Mine, thanks to a sweet boy who thought of me on a hot, summer night, sits in a mini-shrine of ticket stubs and photos that I have collected like revival programs. They are to remind me to be more open, more porous so that day to day I can live the Trinity: a euphoria that comes with acknowledging the body, the mind, and the spirit.