By FATHER JAMES S. BEHRENS, OCSO, Commentary | Published September 21, 2017
“How can I forget you when there is always something there to remind me? Always something there to remind me. I was born to love you and I will never be free. You’ll always be a part of me.”
Those words are from the 1967 song, “Always Something There to Remind Me,” sung by Dionne Warwick and written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It is, I think, a beautiful song, and Warwick pours her heart into it.
The song is about the aching reminders of a love once known and lost. Places once shared—a street where lovers walked, a café where intimacies were once shared over coffee and candlelight—are painful reminders of the way life and everything in it glowed when they were enhanced by human love.
The song evokes other memories. In a comment posted beneath an online selection of the song, a man posted the following: “My mom died two weeks ago, and I just heard this song today for the first time since I was growing up. The last time I heard it was when I was a young child in a doctor’s office waiting room with my mom at her appointment. It makes me cry thinking of how my mom was.”
I remember when Dionne Warwick’s younger brother, Mancel, was killed in an auto accident on the Garden State Parkway in East Orange, New Jersey—not at all far from where the Warwick family grew up. Mancel Warwick died in 1968. I lived near there, too, and would often think of Mancel when I passed the spot where he died. My own brother died two years before—also in a car accident—so I have my own street that still brings back painful memories.
I look about at the monks as we gather in church. I know of their loves and losses—parents, brothers, sisters, friends, grandparents, brother monks, special relationships through which love came and then, one day, departed. And there are as well relationships that may have held great promise, but withered due to the faltering nature of the human heart: cherished but painful memories of love that each of us holds within.
Love leaves its imprints on whatever it has touched, wherever it has been.
I like to think that love is the imprint of God. We cannot see God face to face. Knowing God is more a matter of taking a second look at all of life. Where there is love, there is God.
Most of us struggle in our attempts to fathom God’s love in a world plagued by what seems to be its absence. But there are those among us whose lives and words attest to the presence of God’s love in the darkest places of life—in places where we would least expect to find it. And these people—poets, saints, mystics and not least, the lowliest among us—bid us to follow, to see, to believe in what we cannot yet see for ourselves.
God exists to love us and we will never be free of his love. We will always be a part of him—and he will always be a part of us. There will always be people to remind us of who we are in God and what God is for us. Human love is God’s plea to know that he is with us and loves us more deeply than we can ever hope to imagine.
A broken heart is the place where God’s love is to be found. There are those who, when brokenhearted, turn from the God they believe to have been the source of their anguish. Such a God does not exist. There is only a God who lives in our hearts and our memories, who shares his life with us and remains with us for eternity. Present everywhere, and always there, and here, to remind us that we will always be a part of him.
“If you should find you miss the sweet and tender love we used to share, just come back to the places where we used to go. And I’ll be there …”
Beautiful lines. A beautiful song. A song where the human and divine meet, and sing, and remember.
Trappist Father James Stephen Behrens is a monk at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. His books are available at the monastery web store at www.HolySpiritMonasteryGifts.com.