world on fire: a midrash on sarah’s lyrics

Sarah Mclachlan is one of my musical heroes and a prophet in her own right. she wrote this song a few years back about the world in crisis and how we should do something about that. and so here is ‘midrash’ (a fancy jewish word, meaning ‘commentary’)


Hearts are worn in these dark ages
You’re not alone in this story’s pages
The light has fallen amongst the living and the dying

Midrash:  i think this verse is key to understanding suffering. not understanding the why’s of suffering. but coming to the realization that we can’t suffer alone. that we need one another. when the ‘crap hits the fan’, realizing we are not alone in it can be just as healing as getting through it. the world is in disarray, this verse without the chorus would sound much like orthodoxy (we’ve been put here to get out of here) or nihilsm. but there’s hope. it’s friday, but sunday’s coming. and Sarah writes that the dark falls on us all. this is what binds us, the reality that we all go through it, but that we weren’t meant to do it alone.

And I’ll try to hold it in
Yeah I’ll try to hold it in

Midrash: if you just heard this, it would be sorrowful because i think this is an echo of most of our culture. if we see a fight, we encourage it not stop it. if we see something and hesitate than all we do is hold it in. if the world is on fire, it doesn’t have time for people to hesistate. but people who willingly, at the risk of their own lives and well-being step in and respond and do something culturally sensitive and relative to the situation

The world’s on fire it’s more than I can handle
I tap into the water and try to bring my share
I try to bring more, more than I can handle
I’ll bring it to the table
I’ll bring what I am able

Midrash:  i think that was the message of the cross. bring more than you can handle. die to your own safety. bring out of your lack. in fact, the author of hebrews describes faith as something that comes out of our lack (the unseen).
we must be willing to overextend ourselves for the other. not for the outsider, there are not outsiders. humanity is one body, maybe the ‘body’ paul was talking about. and so we need each other. and we need to know we each have something to bring and that we have a responsibility to bring it.
I watch the heavens but I find no calling
Something I can do to change whats coming
Stay close to me while the sky’s falling
I don’t wanna be left alone, don’t wanna be alone

Midrash: for me, one of the more striking verse. sarah is pulling on her catholic faith experience here. she looks to the place where she thinks will have all the answers — heaven, up there, somewhere…but her remedy…not wanting to be left alone. there is something incredibly divine not being alone. sometimes ‘we’ are the only god we have to get us through. sometimes, life is out of our control, but having someone there with you while the sky is falling is quite liberating while we sit helpless and let the sky fall (not a passive kind that is).

Hearts break, hearts mend, love still hurts
Visions clash, planes crash, still there’s talk of
Saving souls, still the cold’s closing in on us

Midrash: again, a bit of sarcasm towards ‘religious remedies’. and how the power of a love-act still costs someone something. and that even in the midst of people doing great things, there is still the reality/dichotomy that evil is still being perpetrated and so we need more people are willing to bring the water. like someone once said, ‘bad things happen when good men do nothing’.

We part the veil on our killer son
Stray from the straight line on this short run
The more we take, the less we become
A fortune of one man means less for some

Midrash: i could write so much on this, as i am sure you can as well. what we have to realize that in the middle of all of our excuses of why we don’t do what we know we should, is the realization that we help in the death of others. that isn’t a comfortable place to come to. and that our need for consumerism create lack for those how have little or nothing. it is realizing that are decisions here, effect others over there. and that all of ‘toys’ aren’t needed and when we think we have what we need or want, we forget those who don’t. we use our things to make us happy and forget those in lack. as james the writer wrote once, ‘brothers (sisters), this should not be so!’


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