If you ever need to hear a voice
In the middle of the night
When it seems so black outside
That you can’t remember light
Ever shone on you or the ones you love
In this or another lifetime
And the voice you need to hear
Is the true and the trusted kind
With a soft, familiar rhythm
In these swirling, unsure times
When the waves are lapping in
And you’re not sure you can swim
Well, here’s the lifeline
If you ever need to feel a hand
Take up your own
When you least expect
But want it more than you’ve ever known
Baby, here’s that hand
And, baby, here’s my voice that’s calling
This is love, all it ever was and will be
This is love
-Mary Chapin Carpenter
This is Love is a song by my favorite artist and songwriter, Mary Chapin Carpenter. It debuted on her album, Stones in the Road, in 1994, the same year I graduated from college. It is a song that has meant many things to me over the years. It has been a balm for a broken heart as well as encouragement during trying times. Its words have painted pictures of hope where there seemed to be none, and it has spoken to the deepest parts of me that needed reassurance that I wasn’t alone.
The lyrics mean as much to me today as they ever have. We are indeed living in unsure times. Just weeks ago, the thought of statewide stay at home orders didn’t even register. Social distancing wasn’t even a word. There were murmurs of school closings, but they were only murmurs. The thought of shutting down almost every aspect of our daily lives seemed the thing of dystopian fiction, even as we watched and heard the news coming from Europe and Asia.
But here we are. Perhaps you find yourself awake in the dark of the night, yearning for reassurance that is beyond your grasp. Maybe the only comforting voice you hear is over the phone or via video connection. Have these four weeks (depending on when you started counting) felt like a lifetime? Is it hard to remember gathering with those you love, freely and without fear? Are you wondering if the waves are just too strong?
Just as the early lyrics of the song speak to fear and loneliness, the title offers the antidote. This is love. Love is the voice you need to hear, love is the life preserver keeping you afloat, love is the hand you long to feel within your own. And won’t it be love that gets us to the other side of this?
Isn’t it love that is delivering groceries and medicines to those who can’t leave their homes? Isn’t it love that decorates sidewalk squares with chalk? Isn’t it love that is checking in with family and friends, asking simply, “How are you?” Isn’t it love, in the form of doctor and nurses, tending to the sick? Isn’t it love when we gather around a screen to see each other on Easter? Isn’t it love that fills our grocery store shelves and rings up our purchases? Isn’t each day an act of love?
There are more lyrics to this incredible song that I encourage you to seek out. Perhaps they will lodge in your heart as they have in mine, serving as balm and comfort, hope and inspiration.