Michael A Siebold

Wideness or Wildness?


There's a wideness in God's mercy
I cannot find in my own
- Rich Mullins - The Love of God

Growing up in the pre-youtube and internet lyric site era, for years I thought I was hearing “wildness”, so now I hear both words. I think they both work. This old friend came to mind while walking on a trail out in Cades Cove this afternoon. I’m not entirely sure why. I guess it was because people were getting a little tense with each other, and I started hiking a bit to get away from the business. Horns were honking as a pair of motorcycles tried passing a string of cars on a one lane road in a bear jam. As I was walking into the woods I heard one of the bikers angrily yell a particularly vile curse at the cars, several of which had small children sitting next to open windows. Even more than the photography, I enjoy the peace of the mountains. I guess I wasn’t thinking the best thoughts about humanity in general as I started that trail. I didn’t consciously think of this song. I kind of just started hearing it.

I don’t think it’s safe to seek out emotional religious experiences. It’s an idea I got from Lewis a long time ago, and the danger of a faith based on ever changing and sometimes elusive feelings seems clear to me. Then there are those times when it feels like God reaches around you and gives you a big bear hug. I spent the rest of the afternoon mentally tying different ideas from songs or books into this one verse, in short, meditating on the Love of God and always kept glad to have been caught…

This seemed appropriate since I was driving out over Rich Mountain Road.

There's a wideness in God's mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the Love of God

No new ideas here, just an experience that moved me. Which brings another of his songs to mind.

Hello old friends
There's really nothing new to say
But the old, old story bears repeating
And the plain old truth grows dearer every day

And that is almost certainly my favorite album opening lyric in the history of such things.

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