As we live through ordinary encounters, we are periodically struck by extraordinary events that forever change us. When Stevie Nicks, singer with the famous rock band Fleetwood Mac, wrote the lyrics to Landslides in the mid-1970s she was thinking of her father who, at that time, was facing life-threatening surgery, while she also contemplated a professional break-up with her band and a personal break-up with Lindsey Buckingham. She understood that we can control the choices we make, but other happenings can control us. Music often comes to us on three distinct levels: first is the author’s intent based on her/his circumstances, second is the meaning it brings us based on our own experiences, and third is the deeper “god-level” that is more profound than the original intent or personally perceived message.
Occasionally in this column, I will select a song, book, or art piece to comment on the levels of meaning it offers us because I believe spiritual exercises like this can help develop transcendent insight and heighten our prayer life. Contemporaries of mine have noted their appreciation of examining some of the music we grew up with because it helped form us while we were seeking our identity and finding our way to maturity. Nicks wrote this song while gazing at Colorado mountains rising to heavenly skies. The snow-capped peaks mirrored her aging white-haired dad while threatening avalanches reflected the fragile state of human existence: she grasped the reality that we will each take our final breath on some unpredictable day, while relationships and careers can take a major turn at any juncture. Yet time moves on; we age; children become adults; adults should make wise adult choices; adults become old; and old people die. Through it all, we periodically stop and turn around; we look back upon the trails we’ve taken, consider the hills we climbed, lament the times we’ve fallen, and praise the peaks we reached or summits we achieved. These times of reflection are key, for sometimes they open a locked treasure of meaning deep within us.
Along the journey, she references the “mirror in the sky.” Created in the image and likeness of God, we are to mirror His divine face through the ways we face life circumstances and look at ourselves to assess how we are doing with that task. God resides inside each of us as an interior compass, showing us the way along our earthen hike, as a conscience helping us to make good decisions, and as a holy spirit assuring us that we do not walk alone. We also have trail guides (parents and mentors) who point out things along the journey to help us cope with changes. My family reflected upon this song in a siblings retreat after our father’s death. We discussed Nicks’ ponderance about our belief that faith can move mountains and, if mountains move, earth trembles; within earth-shaking events, subsequent landslides can bring us down. Yet, at the same time, they present an artistic backdrop for us to reflect and regroup as we sojourn onward and upward. As we see our parent’s (or God’s) reflection in us, we take their love and hand it down to the next generation which also needs guidance in handling the seasons of their lives or maneuvering through the changing ocean tides.
Stevie Nicks, now in her seventies, wrote these words while in her twenties. With prophetic insight she invites us to see what time does to us and what love does to us. If we can handle the peaks and valleys of our upward journey and take time now and again to turn around and reflect on it, we will better appreciate both the destination to which we’re headed and the adventures that get us there.