Each year, on Ash Wednesday and during Lent, I focus attention on a singer-songwriter or album from the popular culture of my lifetime in which I find echoes of the Lenten journey.
This year, we devote ourselves to listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s superb intensely personal album from 2012, Ashes And Roses, which describes her own journey “from night into day,” as she processed a life-threatening illness, a divorce, and the death of her father.
Today, we hear a song from the record called “Chasing What’s Already Gone.” The title for Ashes and Roses comes from a line in this song.
This perceptive piece describes the all-too-human quality of looking back on our lives in such a way that we find ourselves bound by the past. It urges looking back with wisdom, but not chasing that which we can no longer capture.
Like the line that spells the far horizon
Moving with you as fast as you can run
Half your life you pay it no attention
The rest you can’t stop wondering
What you should have done
Instead of chasing what’s already gone
What allows me to do what I do is when people hear these songs and say, ‘That’s how I feel, too.’ It makes you realize how much we are all alike, how connected we are, and how universal our experiences are. As I’ve gotten more distance from the events of the last few years, I realize that these feelings aren’t anything to be ashamed of. More than anything, that’s what has always allowed me to make music and, certainly, make this record. As terrifying as it is to be so honest about something, at the same time, it’s even more terrifying to imagine keeping it all hidden. It’s a necessary step towards wholeness to see where we have come from.