Switchfoot has a song called “Sooner or Later (Søren’s Song)”, which is more or less a prayer of Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (May 5, 1813 – November 11, 1855), who was a nineteenth century Danish philosopher and theologian. Much of Søren’s work and thoughts were criticized while he was alive, but after he passed, many people realized his contribution to the break down of rationalism that was overtaking the institutional church of his day.
It seems to me that much of Søren’s work desired to bring together the spiritual and material realms, as the Christian “religion” had pitted the “material” against the “spiritual”, which had deprived the material life (eating, drinking, pleasure, etc.) of having any meaning or value. In other words, the good Christian was boring and unable to enjoy the better parts of God’s material world. Friedrich Nietzsche’s keen but sad critique of Christians of his day was that their religion made them boring.
This is where the lyrics of this song come in. Søren longed for more and was honest about his struggle with faith. I struggle with faith, the boring and taxing parts of it. The suffering for doing good, and the regret of my actions. The loss of a reality that movies told me life was like when I was a child. The let down that Christendom handed me when I entered adulthood and the formula for joy was a disappointment. The struggle is everywhere and the desire to hold on to hope is relentless for those who are willing to be honest.
Søren wanted more than a rational understanding of faith, and so do I. He longed for an experience of faith, of God; a faith that haunted him, met him in the mundane every day, followed him, swallowed him, consumed him; so do I. I’m convinced that anything less than the divine invading the material realm in every part of life will lead to a major disappointment in any spiritual journey. Here’s the lyrics to this Switchfoot song from the album, New Way to be Human (1999):
“Sooner Or Later (Søren’s Song)”
Come back and haunt me
Follow me home
Give me a motive
Swallow me whole
They say I’ve lost it
What could I know
When I’m but a mockery?
I’m so alone
Sooner or later you’ll find out
There’s a hole in the wall
Today is ours
Condemned to be free
Free to keep breathing
Free to believe
I look to find you
Down on my knees
Oh God, I believe!
Please help me believe
Sooner or later they’ll find out
There’s a hole in the wall
Sooner or later you’ll find out
That you’ll dream to be that small
I’m a believer, help me believe
I gave it all away and lost who I am
I threw it all away
With everything to gain
And I’m taking the leap
With dreams of shrinking
Yeah, dreams of shrinking
There’s much to leave open ended about this song and I do not want to draw too many conclusions, but one I must is that this longing to experience God for Søren, I believe, was a desire to enter into the presence of God in a different dimension than what was offered to him through the “religion” of Christianity.
That “hole in the wall” metaphorically refers to an entrance, an invitation if you will, into the dimension where a Kingdom utterly different than ours exists. And the entrance is small, so small that we have to shrink, become lowly, humble enough to receive a new set of lenses and senses, new wine skins if you will, to see and experience the God of this universe.
Søren’s prayer was honest, much like the father of the epileptic son in Mark 9, who believed, yet asked Jesus to help him in his unbelief. Jesus invited the father to enter into a new dimension of faith, faith that would redeem a broken part of his material realm, but for some, only to leave that person once again wanting more because life breaks down.
The material realm is so wonderful in so many ways, until it breaks down. Betrayal. Loss. Pain. Abuse. Neglect. Anger. Bitterness. Failure. Broken dreams. Broken bodies. At that point, we long to separate from the material either from our religion of choice, or through other false stories of salvation such as various chemicals or sex.
So we begin to live in this dualism. We love the material realm until it breaks down, and then we long to be in another realm, spiritually or imaginatively. We need the God of this universe to penetrate our material reality in every way so that our dual understanding of life and faith is shattered and we begin to embrace that every moment is a sacrament waiting to be noticed, not necessarily celebrated all the time, but noticed.
This is the beginning of experiencing God in a new dimension. This is the beginning of becoming small enough to enter the hole in the wall, to walk in to the real realm that is fully divine and spiritual, and fully material and fully good. This is the beginning of rightly understanding pain and loss, and joyfully receiving good meals and drinks with friends. This is the beginning of not giving up when life is unbearable and has broken you down. This is the beginning of learning to have fun and laugh and to have extended time of silence that heals and restores.
This is the beginning of experiencing the life of life, who is God, revealed to us through Jesus, the suffering servant who grew in stature and favor with God and man. This is the beginning of receiving the whole gospel that says God will never abandon you, and will relentlessly act in such a way for you to truly know him and hunger for him more than anything else. The life that God offers is his Son, the light that has always shone, not from the beauty into the dark, but out of the darkness pointing towards the beauty; reconciliation with God through faith in the Son who sines light out of darkness.
So today, I cry out with Søren for the faith to believe and to experience the light and life of God, and for it to shine with all of it’s brightness into my dark life, into this dark world, so that on the days of hopelessness, myself and many others may not abandon post and cause more pain to others and ourselves on this journey to the heavenly realm that will be our reality here on earth one day.
If this light in not true and is not experienced in our material world, then to what are we witnesses of? What have we to offer if we have not seen and touched with our hands? Where will we call others who are hopeless to? What can we offer?
Come back and haunt me. Follow me home. Give me a motive. Swallow me whole. Make of me a living liturgy that encounters the Eucharist today. Let me touch your body. the hands that were wounded with holes. Let me see and taste of your blood that was spilled in the darkness so that light would be shone for all. Give us something to truly be a witness of in the midst of despair.