Back in February we were watching the super bowl with some friends when an ad came on for the band U2 playing at a new venue in Las Vegas called The Sphere. Having just finished Die With Zero, and always wanting to see a U2 concert, I was quickly and easily committed to a pilgrimage to Vegas for my first U2charist….

As fate smiled down on me, a friend had recommended Bono’s new memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story. I always loved U2 growing up – The Joshua Tree, The Unforgettable Fire, Achtung Baby, Rattle and Hum. But since I spend most of my time with podcasts and audiobooks these days, it’s been awhile since I’d spent much time listening to them.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of celebrities. I”m pretty sure I lumped the band into that category, so I was unsure about committing twenty hours to learning their story. Bono has a depth that I was clearly unaware of. And I’m grateful for his story. Clearly there is much to learn from anyone who has mastered their craft as they have.

I finished Surrender as we pulled into Vegas on Friday. At times the book was hard for me to follow. Maybe it was Bono’s accent. Definitely at times his thought process. But I loved learning his story, his experience. Especially as he moved into the phase of his career where humanitarian aid to the poorest countries became a major focus. I was moved by his commitment to lifting the poor. At times it’s easy to criticize those who have everything for the efforts they make or the causes they take up, but at least they are doing something. And Bono’s organization has done so much.

I’m deeply grateful to Bono for his open discussion about his life journey, about his view of the world:

I loved the insights about the song, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, as his efforts to understand God and life – The idea that maybe his it’s okay that he’ll always be searching, and making peace with his own uncertainty. “There is no promised land, only a promised journey.”

He describes his fascination with the story of Elijah “who was told to wait on the voice of God in a cave on a hillside. There he was waiting of the earth to shake, and shake it did. But it did not offer up a word. Neither did the melodrama of the celestial fire or cyclone offer up any clues. When it arrived, the divine communication was such a whisper that Elijah almost didn’t recognize it. In one translation it is described as the still, small voice. In another, it is translated as the ‘Sound of Silence.’ Maybe Paul Simon heard it too…? In the perpetual longing to be filled with the extraordinary, we begin to lose appreciation for the ordinary.”

He shares a quote the Sufi poet Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” I absolutely love the image in my head that this quote provokes.

I was moved by Bono’s efforts to lift the hands of the poor. He noted that over two thousand verses in the Bible deal with issues related to those who cannot meet their own needs. He said, “In trying make peace in my own uncertainty, I grew to be certain in one regard…. Whatever the differences of the great faith traditions, they find common ground in one place. Among the poor and vulnerable is where the signal is strongest. So where is God? Well, I hope God is with those of us who live such comfortable lives. But I know God is with the poorest and most vulnerable. In the slums and cardboard boxes where the poor have to play house. In the doorways as we step over the divine on the way to work. In the silence of a mother who is unknowingly infecting her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war, in the bare hands digging for air. God is with the terrorized, at sea with the desperate, clinging onto drowning dreams. God is with the refugee. I hear his only son was one. God is with the poor and the vulnerable. And god is with us, if we are with them.”

Perhaps my favorite part was his discussion on Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, that he describes as “the greatest ode to love that has been written in 2000 years.” The journey to find God is the journey to find love, to lose yourself in others. “God is present in the love between us… in love expressed as action.”

With that background I went to the concert. After 46 years, it’s clear U2 still has it. I was blown away by the whole thing.The band. The story. The commitment. The Sphere. The energy. The experience.


  • Whit
    8 months ago