Why “Visiting Hours” is Perfect Right Now

Today a friend of mine sent me a text with Ed Sheeran’s new-ish song “Visiting Hours” because, as she noted in her caption accompanying the video, it’s “On Mortality.”

I’ve listened to the song several times today, including watching the video of its premiere on the occasion of the state memorial for Michael Gudinski in whose memory Sheeran wrote the song in tribute.

In addition to being incredibly talented, there are other reasons why this song at this time is topping charts and resonating worldwide with the global population that has endured the pandemic – paradoxically, collectively and in isolation.

The first line begins, “I wish that Heaven had visiting hours…”

If there was any doubt that people could connect with such a paradisiacal lyric before the pandemic, the doubt has been resolved. The past two years, we have realized that we wish for our world to have visiting hours, too.

Perhaps we didn’t always visit our elderly, sick, and hospital-bound loved ones. But once such visiting became restricted, the inability to visit became more acute, more two-sided even.

In the lyrics that follow, it’s the absence of a friend, it’s the deprival of a loved one that clarifies their value.

Another very interesting aspect in this song is what those who have died have to teach – their perspective having been refined in the light of eternity.

Can we just talk a while until my worries disappear?
I’d tell you that I’m scared of turning out a failure
You’d say, “Remember that the answer’s in the love that we create”
So much has changed since you’ve been away

In the world, we will have self-doubt and insecurity. But the antidote for fear of failing is loving anyway.

Even apart from the pandemic, how many of us have not yet had such visiting hours during which someone, ostensibly weaker and more vulnerable than us, communicates (with or without words) that the answer to life is to be found in the love between us?

The mention of heaven, our ability to relate to those who have passed, and our hope that “this is not goodbye, it is just ’til we meet again” depends on our cosmic significance, on the transcendence of human life and love.

There are many things is disarray in our culture, but the fact that this song is as popular as it is seems to me a sign of an open-heartedness that is worth noticing and celebrating.

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