Time for another song story. This one, BROKEN BEAUTY came about under similar circumstances as did KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, which I wrote about in my last blog. At that same songwriting retreat up in the mountains of Whistler BC, we were hearing all about Trinitarian theology. I have a wonderful friend who has this idea (a good one I think) that since music can be so influential in people’s lives, the music we write needs to be thoughtfully and carefully formed, and our lyrics need to be True, not just great poetry! In fact, much of the theology (study of God) that we learn and hear in church or wherever, comes in the form of songs.
So anyway, I had been listening to some great Christian thinkers and writers talk about the Trinity, and in particular the Incarnation. The word incarnate derives from the latin and means ‘in the flesh’. So, the incarnation is ‘God in flesh’ - Jesus. I heard more teaching about Christian art at that retreat from David Goa, an expert in Christian historical art and someone who was instrumental in compiling a book of art called ‘A Broken Beauty’, and an art exhibition of the same title. That title was compelling to me, and as I was playing my guitar later that evening I wrote the line ‘sometimes beauty is in the breaking, and healing comes in the taking on the wounds of Christ’. At that moment I wasn’t really thinking ‘hey I’ve got something here’! But I did say to myself, I think I should keep following this inspiration. The next line followed easily ‘as joy can follow crying, living will follow dying, when we die in Christ’. I can’t remember exactly what happened next, but somehow I ended up sitting down with Bob Bennett and off we went in co-writing the song.
The best word for Bob when it comes to songwriting, both in music and lyrics is ‘brilliant’. These were some lines he contributed ‘it goes against the way we think that it should be, that imperfection seems to suit us perfectly, His sacred fingerprints, upon our broken beauty’. There were many lines we wrote that we didn’t keep, but the direction that we were both pushing was for the contrasts in life that are considered beautiful - joy that follows crying, living that follows dying (as a symbol, as in nature, as in eternal life…), finding completeness out of emptiness, the breaking of the glass at a Jewish wedding…I actually remember Bob saying ‘hey what about when you’re walking in the dark you laugh nervously?’ What if we said ‘As I hide from You in mourning, and face the dark with nervous laughter, somehow the moments that are miracles I never know them until after’? And I was like ‘ok now I know you really are good at this.
That’s really the truth of it. The Incarnation is a miracle of God. God with skin on, limiting Himself to human form, so that He could be broken for us. He entered our reality so that we could enter His. And that leads to perhaps the most important line of the song…’It goes against the way I think that it should be, that God should wrap in flesh, this Holy mystery - the perfect sacrifice, became our broken beauty.’