One of the most popular pop songs which both internationally and locally made a great hit is surely Alice Merton’s song No Roots.
Looking closely at its lyrics accompanied by its fascinating beat, No Roots documents Merton’s life as being one of moving from place to place in that restlessness of find a home where to stay. The more she searches the more she never ever really find a home where she can stay there with herself. Her not finding a home makes her feeling lost, lonely and, misunderstood too. As a brilliant artist, Alice Merton manages to communicate to us this sense of not having a secure home, of not having roots through her exceptional song No Roots.
Having no roots is not a beautiful thing at all. Contrarily, it is really a painful thing to experience. During his morning Mass homily on October 5 2017, feast of Saint Faustina Kowalska, Pope Francis warned against having no roots, in other words, against a way of closing in on one’s self. When he reflected about the nostalgic tears of Nehemiah, who was cupbearer to the Persian king in Babylon, the Argentinian Pope said that recovering one’s roots practically “means recovering the sense of belonging of a people”. Thus, within this perspective, the Holy Father said that “without roots we cannot live: a people without roots or at risk of losing roots, is a sick people.” He went on by explaining that “a person without roots, who has forgotten his roots, is sick. We must think of this psychological self-exile as a disease: it does so much harm. It takes away the roots. It takes away our belonging.”
In that Mass Pope Francis emphasized that we all should stay attached to our roots, especially our spiritual ones. Taking the example of the people at the time of Nehemiah who persisted until they can finally rebuild their city and then they cried tears of joy by calling it their home, the Pope encouraged you and me to read the Eight Chapter of the Book of Nehemiah and genuinely ask ourselves if we have or would have embarked upon a journey to recover our roots. Or else if we prefer to be closed in ourselves in the soul’s self-imposed exile.
Saint Augustine knew perfectly what it means to have no roots and how tormenting this experience for him really was. His Confessions cry this agonizing pain by themselves! “The liberty I loved was merely that of a runaway.” “Without you, what am I to myself but a guide to my own self-destruction?” “I myself was exceedingly astonished as I anxiously reflected how long a time had elapsed since the nineteenth year of my life, when I began to burn with a zeal for wisdom, planning that when I had found it I would abandon all the empty hopes and lying follies of hollow ambitions. And here I was already thirty, and still mucking about in the same mire in a state of indecision, avid to enjoy present fugitive delights which were dispersing my concentration, while I was saying: ‘Tomorrow I shall find it…’”
Fortunately, that pervading and senseless procrastination was put to an end when Augustine opened his heart for God. His nomadic no roots was decisively changed into what Pope Francis termed as restlessness of spiritual seeking, restlessness of the encounter with God and restlessness of love. In simple words and unlike Alice Merton, Saint Augustine could sing I’ve got the roots because he kept searching. So, why don’t I look at my inner depth and ask myself: Does my heart desires something great or has it been anesthetized by success, by things or by power? Saint Augustine could sing I’ve got the roots because he was restless in encountering God. Am I letting God finding me through other people, experiences or the stirrings of my heart? And now that I am knowing Jesus am I making him more and more known to others? Finally, Saint Augustine could sing I’ve got the roots because he was restless in loving. As Pope Francis put it: “[Am I] ceaselessly seeking the good of the other, of the beloved, without ever stopping and with the intensity that leads even to tears?”
Thank you Jesus because today you taught me that it’s so cool to have you as my strong roots! Amen!