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Friday, November 8, 2013

THE MYSTERIOUS WORM OF MATTHEW PIKE: Discovering the Image of God Within

(editor’s note: This piece is dedicated to the owners and patrons of Kuma’s Corner, Purveyors of fine BOVINE GENOCIDE, Chicago, Illinois, in honor of their November “Sleep” burger with turkey and cranberry jelly. Yum)

“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone ...But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him. (Psalm 103)

by Susan Fox

American rock musician Matthew Pike has found a mysterious part of himself – something that was missing during the years he was blacked out from alcohol and dope.
Doom Metal Guitarist Matt Pike
“I’m starting to find out who I really am, what I’m worth and the value of my being,” said the 41-year-old Denver native in a 2012 interview with Vincent Duke for Pelecanus.net. “That’s an important thing for a person to realize.”

And surprisingly, it appears that the guitarist for the doom metal band, Sleep, is finding out that being human and being alive is actually something wonderful.

“I’ve been writing in this journal… some of it is very Hunter S. Thompson. It’s realism. It has comedy, and it’s kind of depressing, too, because of the way my life has been,” said Pike, who admits he is still struggling with alcohol addiction. “It kinda makes me sad that I blacked myself out for half of it.”

“I just feel like I’m starting to get grounded where I was lost for a really long time.” His face beaming with happiness, Pike added, “I asked my girl to marry me in Rome. She said, ‘Yes.’  So it will be the first time I’ve ever been married. ”

His partner on this pilgrimage to the heart of his humanity is a mysterious worm, the subject of his latest song creation, De Vermis Mysteriis. “That’s what that record is – it’s the Book of the Worm or the mysteries of the worm. It’s about digging under the earth or underneath the groundation of your soul and finding something. It’s not about how rock star I am. Being human is finding what you really are.”

I wonder if he would be surprised to know that a number of other people have courageously ridden the worm into their own soul and found something beautiful there.

Harking back to Psalm 103 where man is compared to the flower of the field, which lasts only so long as the wind passes over it, St. Theresa -- known as The Little Flower -- said, “If a little flower could speak, it would say, simply, what the good God has done for her.” Indeed the French saint lived only 24 years in an obscure Carmelite convent in Lisieux in the late 1800s. Yet she is known and loved worldwide.

Her life inspired a Vietnamese Redemptorist brother, Marcel Van, to follow the same vocation of hidden love. He died at the age of 31 in a North Vietnamese re-education camp after he voluntarily returned to the dangerous Communist Zone in 1954.  If anyone asked why he wanted to return to North Viet Nam, he answered, “I am going so that there is someone who loves God in the middle of the Communists.”
Brother Marcel Van

He described his life using the same imagery Theresa did, saying that if the flower could speak, “she would frankly admit that she is a fragile creature, quick to fade but she would also be proud of her beauty, of the crispness of her colors, of her delicate scent and of all the other qualities that nature has adorned her with.”

Isn’t Pike’s mysterious worm showing him this same reality? Under the soil of his heart, is he not finding something truly beautiful?

Van continued, “I tell myself that my soul is also like one of God’s flowers. It is God himself who has preordained all that I possess and all the events of my life. I can also therefore recount all the graces with which the good God has embellished my soul, so that together … we can sing a canticle of praise to the infinite mercy of God.”

Pike added, “I can’t summon angels or demons. I can’t do a lot of these things that you think you can when you are in that state.  I found a (different) part of myself. I want to be able to express myself through my instrument. And I’m going to strap that guitar on every day and I’m going to work hard to make a life for my children and my wife.”

“I’m going to make a lot of people, who are sad, feel something. I’m going to make a lot of people, who are angry, feel something. I’m going to make a lot of people, who are happy, feel something,” he concluded.

Is that a strange ambition for a guitarist for a group called “Sleep?”  Sleep after all is part of the doom metal scene where the smog of pot fills the room.  Its lyrics speak repeatedly about escape. “Drop out of life with bong in hand. Follow the smoke to-uh the riff-filled land.” (Refrain for Sleep’s Dopesmoker lyrics)

No, even sleep is full of emotion.  Doom metal enthusiasts are seeking to experience the same emotions every human being longs for. That’s why they go to concerts.

“Life is always a good.  This is an instinctive perception and a fact of experience, and man is called to grasp the profound reason why this is so,” said Pope John Paul II in the Gospel of Life published in 1995. He also lived through great tribulation, the Nazi and Communist occupation of Poland, the death of his parents, and the Nazi Holocaust which robbed him of personal friends.

“The life which God gives man is quite different from the life of all other living creatures, inasmuch as man, although formed from the dust of the earth, is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory,” the pope said, adding the famous quote from St. Irenaeus of Lyons, “Man, living man, is the glory of God… in man there shines forth a reflection of God himself.”

Addressing God, the author of Psalm 8 says, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have established; (I think) What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor.”
The Good Shepherd

How does God regard the human flower? Jesus Himself answered this question in the parable of the lost sheep. If a man has 100 sheep, and one goes astray, does he care? Jesus said, “Yes, he leaves the 99 and goes to look for the one that was lost.” And if he finds it, he rejoices over it more than the 99 who never went astray.

But that is God’s thinking, not ours. If a man is a modern commercial sheepherder, he will be indifferent to one sheep out of 100. He would probably use a mathematical formula to figure out that his profit only went down marginally. Then he’d forget about the sheep and go to bed. That’s how modern man thinks.  But not the Good Shepherd. He would go out and search.

"You don't have the right to despise yourself. You don't have the right," said Fr. Felicien Mbala at Mass today in Denver. He referred to the fact that God Himself has paid the price for us in His own Blood. "For God so loved the world He gave His only Son. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."

This happened 56 years ago, but I remember it like it happened yesterday: I was four years old sitting in the back seat of the car, moments before the accident that took my father's life. I looked up from reading a comic book. My father was giving my mother one long look of love, and she returned that look with her whole heart. In that instant, my parents taught me this important lesson: Life is good. Life is beautiful. Make every moment count. Share it with the ones that you love because eventually life is over.

 “Long live traveler
Winds now die
Dark place creature
Destined night.”

(Matt Pike in De Vermis Mysteriis)

Another source for similar thoughts:
God Searches for the Lost With a Special Love, Pope Francis says


  1. We are always challenged through life...I believe this post calls us to accept our Cross. We want Christ, but without the Cross. Such a Christ is a false one. In learning to accept difficulties, and to love life, we accept that life is directed by Him, and not us. We need the Cross because there is no other way to salvation. The world rejects this; hence, its hatred of Christianity.

  2. Wow, I was praying on your comment, Barona, and I realized that is what this is about, escaping the cross. We are always attracted to those who have the same strengths and weaknesses as ourselves. And I am always struggling with the cross. Literally, one time, I was on a 9-day silent retreat, doing the Stations of the Cross outdoors, and I got to the crucifixion, and I had to sit down. I was so shocked. Jesus was going up the hill to Calvary and I stayed at the bottom of the hill and waved goodbye to Him. God bless you. Susan Fox

  3. Matt Pike has a sound that moves mountains. God is ever present. Viva Christo Rey and viva Matt Pike