The arms of the ocean, so sweet and so cold…

This is an exceedingly depressing post. You have been warned.

——————-

I went through a stage not long ago of being totally obsessed with Florence and the Machine, in particular with Never Let Me Go. It was at a particularly down part of my life, and since then I’ve returned to it whenever I have been unhappy. It’s part of a number of songs that I listen to when the black cloud of depression closes my eyes to the good in the world, in me, and most worryingly, in God. I think that it is a beautiful song, and it conforts me as only beautiful music can when I’m inconsolable.

These are the lyrics. They are poetic and visual and totaly cathartic.

Looking up from underneath
Fractured moonlight on the sea
Reflections still look the same to me
As before I went under

And it’s peaceful in the deep
Cathedral where you cannot breathe
No need to pray, no need to speak
Now I am under all

And it’s breaking over me
A thousand miles down to the sea bed
Found the place to rest my head
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me
And all this devotion was rushing out of me
In the crushes are heaven for a sinner like me
But the arms of the ocean delivered me

Though the pressure’s hard to take
It’s the only way I can escape
It seems a heavy choice to make
And now I am under all

And it’s breaking over me
A thousand miles down to the sea bed
Found the place to rest my head
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me
And all this devotion was rushing out of me
In the crushes are heaven for a sinner like me
But the arms of the ocean delivered me

And it’s over
And I’m going under
But I’m not giving up
I’m just giving in

I’m slipping underneath
So cold and so sweet

And the arms of the ocean so sweet and so cold
And all this devotion I never knew at all
In the crushes are heaven for a sinner released
And the arms of the ocean delivered me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Delivered me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Delivered me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Delivered me
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go
Never let me go

And it’s over
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
And I’m going under
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
But I’m not giving up
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
I’m just giving in
(Never let me go, Never let me go)

I’m slipping underneath
(Never let me go, Never let me go)
So cold and so sweet
(Never let me go, Never let me go)

There’s many theories concerning the meaning of Never Let Me Go. When I first discovered the song I was volunteering with Meals on Wheels. The woman I was driving with said that she heard it was about the Titanic, and not knowing the lyrics I assumed her to be correct. I am extrememly interested in the stories behind songs and poems, and so I go to some lengths to research them. I eventually found that Florence hadn’t ever said what the inspiration for the song was (I’m pretty sure she wrote it, correct me if I’m wrong) and that any stated meaning was just speculation.

After listening to the song and reading the lyrics many (many, many, many) times it seems to me to be either one of two things. One (and this is one I hear extremely often, especially from certain denominational Christians) is that it is a song about baptism. I can see where they’re coming from. The song speaks about going underneath the sea and deliverence and sin (actually, it mentions the last explicitly). But I think that this is a particularly shallow understanding, and frankly, I think it shows a life that hasn’t really been touched by the depths of depression. Because I don’t know how this song can be about anything but depression and suicide.

By all reports, Florence Welch isn’t a Christian, and she has never spoken about her mental health, but I can’t see how she could write this song without experiencing one or the other. “You’re just taking a depressing view on things,” is what some of you may be thinking. But really. Look at the words. Listen to the song. How can it be about anything else? The lyrics say:

Though the pressure’s hard to take
It’s the only way I can escape
It seems a heavy choice to make
And now I am under all

And it’s breaking over me
A thousand miles down to the sea bed
Found the place to rest my head
Never let me go

At the depth of despair it seems like there is no light anywhere. It’s very easy to believe the devil when he whispers the lie that one is useless, evil, undeserving of any love and (worst of all) the most despicable of God’s creation, including Lucifer himself. At those times it can seem as though the only way out is death, because it hurts too much to live. Even on the brightest day, when there are no clouds in the sky and this sun it at its apex, when I feel this way I have to remind myself that it is day and not night. I often feel as though I am drowning in my unhappiness and that no one would ever rescue me, that no one would want to. Never mind that I have a husband that loves me more than he does himself. Never mind that I have parents and sisters who love me. Never mind that my grandparents think that I’m the ants pants. None of this matters. I am drowning in the sea of lies, and many times it seems easier to let go than to keep fighting to keep my head above water.

But there’s a comforting side of the song, and this is what I like most. The chorus:

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me
And all this devotion was rushing out of me
In the crushes are heaven for a sinner like me
But the arms of the ocean delivered me

The arms of the ocean are carrying me, and all I can do is be swept along with the tide. Jesus’s are those arms, and the death he died is the tide which he carries me over. And I know that, no matter what I’ve done, no matter my personality, and no matter the depth I sink to, Jesus will be there, giving me a floating ring, or, if necessary, ressucitation. He will continue to do this, throughout my life, no matter how much my personal demon convinces me he won’t, no matter what my doubts and unbelieving people tell me. He is there. Because if he isn’t, life isn’t worth living.

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