STJ#1004, Busca el Amor

There’s a terrible film from 1999 called The 13th Warrior featuring Antonio Banderas playing a 10th century Arab ambassador to northern Europe; he somehow finds himself included in a group of Vikings setting out to deal with a threat in a distant Viking land.  At the start of this quest, Banderas understands no Norse and can only watch events unfold. But as time goes on, he occasionally picks up a word here or there. The filmmaker’s one good idea in an otherwise awful movie was having the occasional English word pop up in the dialogue of the Vikings…then a few more, then finally the entire group is speaking English, showing that Banderas’ character understands the language now.

It’s a remarkable idea, the assimilation of language, and it was beautifully revealed despite the otherwise violent and plot-hole-filled nature of the movie. And I resonate with it, because while I studied Latin in college, anything I know of other languages I assimilated through Sesame Street, food, and music. I mention this, because while I don’t speak Spanish, I can read just enough of it – and the Latin, of course – to have a general sense of the song’s meaning. But more, I find it falls on the ear more beautifully and feels rich and authentic without even the most elegant of English translations.

Now I say all this because I am a bit embarrassed that I don’t know a second language and I should. But I also say this because I think we need to be more open to singing songs like this in English speaking congregations, with the Spanish lyrics, because given repetition, practice, and a helping hand, the lyrics will begin to make sense and the language will being to seep in, bit by bit. And maybe we can get outside ourselves a bit, too.

It helps to have a great song like this – great to me, anyway. Singer-songwriter (and poet, painter, and ecologist) Salvador Cardenal Barquero (who died at age 50 about seven years ago) wrote beautiful and rich melodies, making him an extremely popular figure in Nicaragua and Central America.

Revisa tu corazón
Para hallar el amor en un rincón.
Pero busca el amor.
Ni placer ni passion.
El amor lo que hace al otro bien

Chorus:
Busca el amor en ti.
Se multiplica si lo repartís.
Busca el amor en ti.
Sólo él que ama puede ser feliz.
Busca el amor en ti.
Se multiplica si lo repartís.
Busca el amor en ti.
Sólo él que ama puede ser feliz.
Busca el amor en ti, en ti.

Registra tu camaleón.
Cuando cambia el color del corazón
Y te estalla la flor.
Un pétalo del sol.
El amor lo que hace al otro bien

Chorus

English translation:

Examine that heart of yours,
As you look for the love on your high shelf,
Past the pleasure and passion
for your own self,
for the love that’s reaching someone else.

Chorus:
Seek out the love in you,
And find the joy that comes to those who care.
Seek out the love in you.
It only grows whenever it is shared.
Seek out the love in you,
And find the joy that comes to those who care.
Seek out the love in you.
It only grows whenever it is shared.
Seek out the love in you, in you.

Your heart’s a chameleon,
Ever open to change like any flower.
Spreading out for the sun,
petals bursting with power.
To be love that’s reaching someone else.

Chorus

I love the sentiment, too. As our UUA Song Information page says,

This song sums up the composer’s simple personal theology. Salvador Cardenal Barquero is a fifth generation Nicaraguan. He studied to be a Catholic priest as a teenager. He, as many of his generation, answered the call for regime change by forming Duo Guardabarranco with his sister Katia. His original songs explore the need for love. He is a devotee of evolving spiritual thought. He has set music to words of St Francis of Assisi, Rabindranath Tagore, and the Sanscrit Vedas (Srimad Bhaghavatam). His plaintive song Cualquier Hombre (Anyone) has poor people calling to God in all different names and “not asking for leftovers.”

Yes. Yes.

We need love, because it’s the only thing that works.

One Comment

  1. Your movie reference reminded me of a wonderful book, “The White Dawn: An Eskimo Saga,” by James Houston, written in 1989. It tells the story of an Eskimo village’s first-ever encounter with white Europeans who land there after a whaling ship mishap. The remarkable thing about the book is the fact that the entire story is told from the point of view of one of the Inuits. Thus, like him, the reader cannot understand what the white men are saying. It’s an amazing read.

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