A guest blog by my youngest son, Chase Montana Smith, age 17, as he looks toward his Senior Year of High School.
There’s a song popular in my playlist and my circle of my mother and girlfriend. “Man on Fire” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes is the lead track of their second album Home, released May 29, 2012.
It’s a simple song, calling for freedom and togetherness. The chorus sings
“I’m a man on fire, walking down your street, with one guitar and two dancin’ feet. Only one desire that’s still in me: I want the whole damn world to come dance with me.”
If we take this literally, a man on fire walking down our street would be quite a captivating sight. Far more intriguing than any ice cream truck. But what is fire, what does it mean to be on fire?
The saying comes out in basketball, often when a player is in a rhythm of making shot after shot. Some exuberant dad—perhaps mine—will yell “She’s on fire!” Pat Monahan’s band Train has a song called “She’s on Fire” which, as far as I can tell, is about a gal who just has it goin’ on!
But so too does Edward Sharpe. A man on fire? Not burning man, but rather a man so charismatic and compassionate that he attracts all others. On a shallow level, that song can be saying: be someone who people want to be around. That’s how I take it. Be a man on fire, I tell myself.
But there’s another saying about fire. It’s something I always heard my mom say, growing up listening to her diverse arrangement of music that spanned from The Lion King to Garth Brooks to REO Speedwagon.
“That’s something that sets my soul on fire,” she would tell me.
Can you even see when someone’s soul is on fire? Well, yeah, it just looks a little different than a ball of blazes.
There’s a song they often play at RockCity Church. After service, as the theatre is clearing out, or before service as the theatre is slowly filling. Through the speakers comes Foster the People, a popular indie rock band, and their song “Call it What You Want.” This song has no deep meaning that I can tell. It’s by a band whose most popular song is about shoes. Nevertheless I find it an attractive song. It has an infectious chorus and bass line, the kind that compels you to dance—even in church.
The title of the album, Foster the People’s first and only thus far, is what makes me ponder. I do the deep thinking that I neglect when dancing to their music. The album is called Torches.
Torches? Torches light things. That’s as simple as it gets. I think that word provides the band’s simples mission statement. The energy in that song lights the energy in me to dance.
So what if we view a man on fire as a soul burning bright with passion, zest for life. What if we view him as a torch, lighting the way for us, and lighting our torch so that we may see.
Infectious energy. I think what we are talking about is charisma. Also fire, but more literally, charisma and passion.
There’s a problem that I have sometimes in church. I hear the liturgy or the music, and I try to apply it to God, but find it more applicable to my friends, people that I can physically touch. I think this is by design. When I am a flickering torch, my mom or my girlfriend Ashley lift me up. They hold their torch in one hand, and lift me up with the other. They lift me up so that God may light my torch anew. The Man on Fire, setting my soul on fire, so that I may share my spark with the ones I love.