Golden by Harry Styles
So, the Sunday just gone was All Saints Day in the Anglican calendar. A day to remember the great saints, martyrs and heroes of the Christian faith. It was also a day in our house which was characterised by the constant playing of Harry Styles’ new single Golden by my daughters.
In preparing my sermons for the All Saints Day services I was once again reminded of some of the incredible work building peace that has been undertaken by one of my heroes, Terry Waite. For those of you who do not remember him, he was a peace envoy who for many years travelled to the middle east to negotiate the release of people who had been kidnapped. Eventually, he was held prisoner himself and suffered torture. He is someone who inspires me through his commitment to humanitarianism and the sacrificial service of others. But I’m guessing you might be asking what this has to do with the new Harry Styles single?
Golden is, on the surface, a song about a new and exciting romance. Yet, when I hear the song through the framing of Terry Waite’s life of service, I also see another type of romance. One which is beyond relationships, a romance with the mystery of life. Let’s take the opening verse:
Golden… Hold it, focus, hoping, take me back to the light. I know you were way too bright for me. I’m hopeless, broken, so you wait for me in the sky. Brown my skin just right.
Here there is a hint at something beyond us, bigger than ourselves. Something which when we look at it and stand in its brightness shows just how damaged we might be. But, which at the same time, is interested in us and can affect our very being.
For me, as a Christian, this hints of the romance of God and humans. But regardless of whether you see this as a glimmer of a life of faith or not, it is certainly a hint that our existence, when fully human, touches far beyond the realms of logic and reason and into the world of romanticism about our existence.
It is this mystical romanticism which reminds me of some of what Terry Waite has said about his own life. He speaks of his own need for reconciliation within and how this motivated his service of others needing a more physical need of reconciliation. He has also often spoken with courageous compassion of the suffering of those who caused his suffering. In many ways, this also reflects a romanticism of life.
Yet, this romanticism is one which I think goes beyond cynical or logical dilemmas and provides with a truly practical model of being fully human and thus fully well in our being. To return to the chorus of our song:
I’m out of my head, and I know that you’re scared. Because hearts get broken.
Yes, there is a reality that this form of romanticised life will cause heartbreak. For Terry Waite it led to his abduction and torture. Yet, yes, this also means being prepared to take a risk to be fully human, fully alive, really caring. If the romanticised life is one of practical love for social justice and others, then maybe it is one worth taking a risk on to make us fully human. To leave the last words with Mr Styles:
Lovin'[s] … the antidote.
Need to re-ignite your romance with life? Why not consider booking an appointment with the author, Dr Dave Wood?