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Is Love Alive?



I’m a firm believer that every person who experiences art experiences it in their own way and can take their own meaning from it. As such, I often find sacred messages in songs that were not written with that intention.

 

The song I’m sharing today is Winter Song cowritten and performed by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, two musicians that do not subscribe to any particular faith and certainly don’t write much sacred music. While this song has appeared on various Christmas albums and concerts since it was written in 2008, the song isn’t as much about the holiday as it is more about the winter season. I’ll share the lyrics for this song at the end of the blog post, but if you haven’t already, take a listen to the song.



Long, cold winter nights are often used as metaphors for sadness. Even the actual nature of winter causes many people to experience seasonal depression. The song takes place in the dead of winter, opening by saying a storm is coming soon. We’ve all experienced literal and metaphorical storms and it’s easy to imagine both. Winter storms have a particularly dangerous connotation to them – particularly for those living in the northern parts of the world. You have to worry about the roads, or in extreme cases, getting out of your house at all. Not to mention the freezing cold if you happen to find yourself outside.

 

But the song says, “I still believe in summer days.” Which is perhaps a silly statement, of course summer exists and will come, but it’s sometimes easy to forget when the nights are long and the weather dreary, or you have three feet of snow outside. When viewing the winter as a metaphor for sadness, or depression, believing in summer days is just as important. When in the throes of these times – no matter the season – it’s hard to remember that happier times are still possible. But hold onto the belief that ‘summer days’ still exist. They may be hard to see, but they will come.

 

This imagery also brings to mind the time Jesus was alone in the wilderness of forty days facing temptation. The isolation and the wilderness would have been hard on anyone. It would have certainly felt like a long winter, trapped in the woods separated from everyone, only the negative, tempting thoughts to keep you company. But Jesus knew summer days were still coming. He knew God was with him and there would be an end to his winter.



The line that sticks out to me the most is “Is love alive?” It’s a pretty powerful question, and this is where I see the sacredness in this song, because God is love. Is God alive? It’s a question that’s been asked by many from bible times to now, and a far bigger question than I’m going to tackle in this particular blog post (but the short answer is ‘yes’, of course).

 

There are, of course, many types of love. The Greeks were far more specific with different words for different types of love, be it romantic, familiar, friend, self, playful, or the universal love for all things – agape. The fact that English only has one word for love often leaves people thinking of romantic love, sometimes familiar. This song as written is actually already subverting that expectation, as this song is about the love between friends. But it’s not a far stretch at all to view this as Agape love – the type of love that God has for the world.

 

The question is repeated many times in the song, with one slight iteration that shows up near the end is “Is love alive in me?” This is such a deep and personal question, and one we should be asking ourselves daily. Especially if we do the same substitution as we did above: “Is God alive in me?” How do we know if He is? And if They are, how do we show it?

 

What if we lived our lives knowing that love – and therefore God – IS alive in us, and we showed that to the world. Let every action show your love, an Agape love, a love that encompasses everything for who and what they are.


Lyrics

This is my winter song to you

The storm is coming soon

It rolls in from the sea


My voice, a beacon in the night

My words will be your light

To carry you to me


Is love alive?

Is love alive?

Is love


They say that things just cannot grow

Beneath the winter snow

Or so I have been told


They say were buried far

Just like a distant star

I simply cannot hold


Is love alive?

Is love alive?

Is love alive?


This is my winter song

December never felt so wrong

'Cause you're not where you belong

Inside my arms


I still believe in summer days

The seasons always change

And life will find a way


I'll be your harvester of light

And send it out tonight

So we can start again


Is love alive?

Is love alive?

Is love alive?


This is my winter song

December never felt so wrong

'Cause you're not where you belong

Inside my arms


This is my winter song to you

The storm is coming soon

It rolls in from the sea


My love a beacon in the night

My words will be your light

To carry you to me


Is love alive?


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