Photo Prayer 2021-18 -- Love Songs

A game I sometimes play is to imagine slight changes or none at all in the lyrics of love songs so that they become hymns to God rather than to an earthly lover. “If you fall I will catch you, I’ll be waiting, time after time” and “I’ll be loving you always” and “How sweet it is to be loved by you”. The ancient Greek philosophers said it, singing in chorus cheek to cheek, that loving someone teaches us to love the best — goodness itself. No wonder lovers say, “I love everybody since I fell in love with you” and “You are the sunshine of my life.” Lovers Lane is just ahead. Our eyes are filled with love and heaven is ours. Call me a Pollyanna!

Photo of old "To Lovers Lane" sign in Arden, Delaware. Text has lines from old love songs.
Photo and text copyright 2021 by Danny N. Schweers.

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Stephanie wrote:
Great photo and rumination. On the topic of love…… Sunday's homily at First U contained the phrase "Grace is the moment love meets imperfection. It meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us." Your picture of the old (imperfect) sign and the thoughts (of love) align with this thought. It is delightful that you were inspired by this ordinary thing. Grace comes unexpected sometimes.

Mary Pat wrote:
Love it!

Alice wrote:
This is a great idea and as it should be.

John wrote:
Danny: Wow. I really enjoyed/appreciated and, yes!, LOVED this one. Tell me more about the ancient Greek philosophers’ idea you reference. It strikes me that it’s also good Christian theology — it is by loving others that we learn to love all the “Goodness” of creation and thereby (perhaps?) learn to love the creator God better and more fully. I do the same thing you do sometimes when I hear a love songs but your affirmation of the practice will now cause me to do it more often! One mere quibble: You don’t mention a song that was intended as a love song to God — Debbie Boone’s version of “You Light up My Life.” When I checked on my recollection, I found that it was not written as a love song to God but that the mega-hit version was sung as one by the singer who made it so popular. I loved the photo too. Is there an actual “lovers lane” in Arden?

Ellen wrote:

Hugh wrote:
Hosanna Pollyana!

Elaine wrote:
Hymns in the top 40. Thanks Danny!

Tom wrote:
Yes, your idea of using secular material for sacred praise was the tactic of many a hymn writer who would turn a bar tune into a hymn.

Anne wrote:
This is so great!! We have heard some secular songs used this way at YL camp e.g. Bin Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”

Christina wrote:
A Catholic priest at Ft Carson, CO, in the late 70s, had Sunday evening Mass in the Sanctuary. We came in casual clothing and sat on the floor and we each had lighted votive candles in paper cups for the only light. He brought his coffee table in from his office and his stereo. He celebrated with the coffee table as the altar and consecrated oyster crackers that were passed among us in a bowl, each taking one and passing to the next. He played contemporary love songs that we knew and sang, some were pretty up beat. He said ANY love song could be a prayer to God. As the Eucharist was being passed he always played Streisand's "Evergreen." To this day when I hear it, I'm immediately back in the darkened Main Post Chapel in a sacred space to breathe in the presence of Christ or when he took his coffee table outside and just at the Consecration, sun set as fire on the mountain behind Pike's Peak.

Nina wrote:
I wonder why the sign is pointing to the sky?

Beverly wrote:
Well said. Please don’t stop posting these gems🧡

Craig wrote:
An interesting project would be to take this sign and go around photographing it in different locations...say, stuck to a gas pump, or the border wall, bottom of a swimming pool (better take your underwater camera for that one..) Anyway it would be fun to see the resonances created by such an iconic sign, posted in the most annoying and unlikely of places.


As I was writing this prayer, I was acutely aware that I was leaving out some great love songs. I could only think of a few songs at the time. My poor brain!

As a fellow-practitioner of this game, John knows that many songs need no words changed in order for us to think of them as hymns. Songwriters often want their songs to sung to anyone, male or female, young or old. They want a bigger audience for their songs. We can imagine those songs as being sung to God, but they could just as easily be sung to adorable puppy dogs that light up our lives.

The Greek philosopher I was thinking of was Socrates, specifically as described in Plato's “Symposium” dialogue. Here’s a good summary of Socrates’ idea of how we learn to love Beauty itself:

If I imagine Greek philosophers in a chorus singing cheek-to-cheek, that idea comes from a wonderful poem by Theodore Roethke, “I Knew A Woman Lovely In Her Bones.” See:

That is a wonderful quote from Stephanie! It quickly relates grace, love, and imperfection. No wonder she remembered it and wanted to share it. I am reminded of Leonard Cohen’s lyric, “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Yes, there is a Lovers Lane in the Village of Arden, Delaware, only a block long and the street signs keep getting stolen. We also have a Sherwood Forest.

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