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Advent Day 18: First Day Of My Life

Yours was the first face that I saw I think I was blind before I met you I don't know where I am, I don't know where I've been But I know where I want to go

… I especially am slow But I realised that I need you And I wondered if I could come home…

This is the first day of my life I'm glad I didn't die before I met you


First Day of My Life, Bright Eyes


 

Reading about this song on Reddit is quite an interesting exercise; it’s one of those songs that seems to have a lot of memories for people… a first dance at a wedding, the birth of a child, or a relationship that didn’t work out. And with these memories, come a variety of lyric interpretations. However, on first listening to this song, it was the spiritual depth of the words that struck me most, because the lyrics seem to echo that line from ‘Amazing Grace’, “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see”. This imagery from 'Amazing Grace' is drawn straight from the Bible, where the metaphor of blindness and sight is often used to talk about spiritual revelation.


‘First Day of My Life’ also brings to mind the story of the prodigal son. I realise this parable has come up in my posts a few times already in relation to other songs, and whilst this may be unsurprising considering that it is one of my favourite Bible passages, I wonder if it might also be the case that this story is so deeply embedded within our collective imagination that 'prodigal son' imagery inevitably resurfaces in the lyrics of our songs, the plots of our films, and all other kinds of art. Bright Eyes’ lyrics are a particularly beautiful example:


I especially am slow. But I realised that I need you. And I wondered if I could come home?

It’s such a simple, childlike question, which expresses so wonderfully that moment of dawning realisation that we miss our heavenly Father.


Looking at this song through a biblical lens adds another level of meaning to that line “I'm glad I didn't die before I met you.” It reminds me of one of those lesser-known nativity scenes. After Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple and they meet a man called Simeon:


“He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:


“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”


(Luke 2: 25-31)


This part of the Christmas story is seriously challenging. How many of us, I wonder, could accept death with such confidence and contentment? It is reminder to us to look again at Jesus, with our eyes fully open, because if we have really encountered his love and have truly seen his glorious beauty, then whether we are young or old, we can trust that life beyond the grave is not to be feared. We can look forward to both our immediate future and our heavenly future with hope and peace, because we know that fullness of joy is found in the presence of Jesus…


“I don't know where I am, I don't know where I've been But I know where I want to go.”

 

This is part of my LittlePonderings series: "Unseasonal Songs: An Alternative Advent in Song Lyrics". You can find out more here.

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