For most people who grew up in the 1980s Pink Floyd were legends. Their song by the name of the title of this article speaks I think about the depression of wartime and of loss and ongoing, lasting devastation, particularly the lyric, “The flames are all long gone but the pain lingers on.”
It goes beyond the time of ‘flaming’ tragedy well into the post-war period. And it speaks equally about the ‘pain that lingers on’ in our lives after the personal wars we go through; those which taint life nastily.
There is absolutely no optimism in this Pink Floyd song, and indeed the whole of The Wall film and soundtrack from which this song comes--though an unqualified twentieth Century masterpiece--is entirely bereft of any real hope, speaking to a whole world that’s lost hope. And it’s true to life for millions. That is why I think people resonate with it, and all the other dark, melancholic songs. There’s a side to life where this without doubt true.
Yet it needn’t be like this; the experience of hopelessness. As they say, with battles and wars, we can either get bitter or better. We can suffer in the lasting pain that lingers on, or we can willingly reconcile it all, resuming our lives as they were or reinvent ourselves to an even better “us” in many cases. This is the case for salvation.
Reconciliation means the process to make consistent or congruous i.e. reconcile an ideal with reality, and to cause to submit to or accept something unpleasant i.e. to be reconciled to hardship.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Time lost is time when we have not lived a full human life, time unenriched by experience, creative endeavor, enjoyment, and suffering.” In other words, the opportunity for reconciliation of the brokenness within is actually the ticket to true freedom. Suffering is a gate to peace. Peace is a spiritual concept. Suffering is part of a ‘full life.’
Reconciliation is a process taking weeks, months or years. As my daughter learns to drive she is frustrated in how long the process takes--after all, it should be easy, right? The reality is learning to drive--a complex skill--is a process. Healing a major hurt or coming to peace about a situation we’d rather avoid is no different.
The process takes as long as it takes, but it must be about reconciling our past with a hope of, and promise for, a better future.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.