Thanks Michael for this song.

Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, better known by his professional name “Sting”, is an English musician, singer-songwriter, activist, actor and philanthropist. I do not know Sting’s music but was recently sent a song he performs called “Fragile.”

In this song, Sting laments the tragedy of war. He suggests war serves only one useful, though unintended, purpose. War reconnects us with the awareness of “how fragile we are.” The words and melody of Sting’s song are haunting and disturbing.


If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are
How fragile we are how fragile we are

Sting says that this song emerged out of a terrible story from Nicaragua.

The song was written about a man called Ben Linder who was an American Peace Corps worker in Nicaragua, who was shot by the contras. I thought there was a wonderful irony about this young idealistic American who was shot by a US funded bunch of basic gangsters. And I basically wrote about that irony and that sadness.

It is hard when we cannot avoid seeing the crack that runs through so much of the human story. It is hard because we would rather avoid facing the reality of “how fragile we are.”

We expend a great deal of energy attempting to establish some sense of permanence. We long for security and safety. We build gated communities in an effort to keep “the enemy” at bay. We develop elaborate security systems to protect our cherished possessions. We look at the terrible earthquake in New Zealand this week and try to convince ourselves that “earthquake preparedness” can keep us safe. But still we seldom feel really safe.

Mists of uncertainty seep in through the cracks in every edifice we construct.

Someone we love falls ill. We witness a car accident. An unexpected weather catastrophe sweeps down upon our community. We fail an exam at school; our business collapses; we get laid off from work; we feel unusual aches and pains in our bodies; a medical test comes back from the doctor showing inconclusive results. The earth shakes and buildings crumble.

It is not only war that has the power to throw us into uncertainty and reconnect us with the troubling knowledge of “how fragile we are.” We all live centimeters away from a gaping abyss. The list of circumstances that have the capacity to push us over the edge is limitless, surrounding us on all sides.

But, perhaps the news of “how fragile we are” is not intended primarily to drive us into a life of fear and anxiety. Perhaps the uncertainties of life can be a doorway to the awareness of a dimension to life that surpasses the transitory impermanent nature of existence.

In a song that was song many years before Sting sang about the fragile nature of life, the Hebrew poet sang about God saying,

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
(Psalm 31:3,4)

It is not the reality of “how fragile we are,” that is the problem. It is our fear of fragility that keeps us bound. When we see through the uncertainties and frailties that are an inevitable part of life, to the deeper reality of God’s presence, we find that we have nothing to fear. Our security is fixed in the eternal faithfulness of that force of Life we call God.

At the heart of all life, is the constant unshakeable reality of the Life that has its source and finds its meaning in God alone. This Life never runs out; it is never overwhelmed. It is steady constant true and reliable. We can rest and trust in this Life no mater “how fragile we are.”