Our family took a break from Switchfoot for a while in our car. I am not sure what brought that on. But recently we have started again. Maybe there is just something driving around in a maroon Volvo station wagon that brings out the rocker in you.
When we listen to them in the car we use an iPod plugged into a device that sends the music to the car radio. (Disclaimer: The iPod is the only Apple device used in our family.) We have set the iPod to play our entire collection of 68 Switchfoot songs in random order and to keep repeating them. I remember on our trips to and from Semarang from our home in Salatiga, one of the kids, I think it was Samuel, made the observation that the Switchfoot songs that came up on our ipod all seemed to come in groups. That is, there would be a whole section of fast and loud songs, and then a whole batch of sad songs, etc. Samuel noticed that it was interesting that the songs that came on the radio seemed to match whatever mood he happened to be in.
I remember one particular trip to Semarang the Sunday morning that we found out that our friend, Cyd Mizell, who had been kidnapped in Afghanistan, had probably been murdered. Every song on the radio seemed to have some bearing on Cyd’s life and death. The song that seemed most poignant to me was Switchfoot’s song “Burn Out Bright.” The recurring line in the chorus was, “Before I die I want to burn out bright.” I was certain that Cyd had burned out bright.
This afternoon Timberley and I drove to Samuel’s school to watch his soccer game. On the way, we listened again to Switchfoot. Right in a row we listened to “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine,” “Twenty-four,” and “The Blues.” The song “Twenty-four” was one of the first songs we listened to the day after Anna died. It was on our drive from Salatiga to Semarang where we were headed for the second memorial service to be held at the seminary where I taught. I chose that song first because I wanted to hear the line, “Life was not what I thought it was twenty-four hours ago. Still I’m singing, ‘Spirit take me up in arms with you.'” I wanted to recognize the sadness and the faith at the same time.
I don’t know what the life story is of Jon Foreman, the singer and songwriter for the group, but he understands sadness and faith. After Anna died I found a song that I ended up using in her memorial service in California. It was from the second Narnia movie soundtrack, Prince Caspian. Anna had not seen the movie, which she would not have liked, and she never heard this song, which she would have loved. The song is called “This is Home.” Jon Foreman explained in an interview that he was trying to write a song that would capture the spirit of the Narnia Chronicles, but there is one line in the song that he felt summed up C. S. Lewis’s writings: “Created for a place I’ve never known.” That was the line which grabbed me the first time I heard the song. Later, after I heard the song 20 or 30 times that first day, another line took hold of me. It was when I imagined the song being sung about Anna as she entered the presence of the Lord, or to keep with the Lewis theme, when she entered the Land of Aslan. The line goes, “I’ve got my heart set on what happens next. I’ve got my eyes wide. It’s not over yet.” Three photographs I have of Anna came to mind when I heard the line, “I’ve got my eyes wide.” They are the ones I have put in this post. I imagined the playfulness and the sheer happiness of Anna as she stepped into the presence of her Lord. I imagine this is what Jesus saw as she stepped forward, or rather, as she ran toward him.