3 Spiritual Insights from Bono’s Brush with Death

Bono
Steven McCarthy via Wikimedia Commons

The rock star Bono of the band U2 is well known for his activism and involvement in social causes. What is a little less know is a near-death moment he had in November 2014 while cycling in Central Park in New York City.

Bono was biking at a high-speed when he crashed while trying to avoid another rider. He hit his head on the pavement, was knocked unconscious and woke up in the hospital with no memory of the accident. He would need 5-hours of surgery and months of rehabilitation before getting back to a place where he could play music again.

In previous interviews, Bono has discussed his Christian religious beliefs which play a large role in his thinking and approach to life. This theme was echoed in an interview in the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Bono was asked about the incident and talked about fighting through the melancholy that came with his injuries and long recovery. He was also asked a pointed question:

How did your faith get you through all this?

Bono provides an extended answer, from which I was able to pick up on three main themes. His precise words appear below in italics, the rest is my interpretation of his thoughts.

  1. Love can get you through even the darkest times.

The person who wrote best about love in the Christian era was Paul of Tarsus who became St. Paul. He wrote this ode to love from his letter to the Corinthians: “Love is patient, love is kind…love bears all things, love believes all things.” 

Bono points out that Paul wrote these words at his lowest ebb, while he was in prison for his beliefs, and was able to relate to them as he was in first stages of recovery. He states, “I do believe that the darkness is where we learn to see. That is when we see ourselves clearer—when there is no light.” His belief in a Divine love carried him through.

  1. We need to put time aside for the contemplation of our lives.

Bono meditates each day, more of a thinking meditation where he contemplates the day ahead. He often relies on scripture during these periods and cites a modern-day translation of Psalm 18 by Eugene Peterson as having special meaning to him. He talks to the passage here:

I’m alert to God’s ways. I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the way he works, I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

  1. True love means working through the issues.

Bono has been married to the same woman, Ali, for 35 years and they’ve been together as partners for over 40 years. They have four adult children. In Bono’s words:

Ali and I are probably more in love now than when we got together in the first place. I don’t think it is given much credit, when people work through their problems and stay together.

The key to this successful marriage may be what Bono calls “non-romanticized love” or “what Yeats calls cold passion. I love the idea that great relationships have a lower temperature.” It sounds very much like agape, the love you give to everyone and every living thing around you without preconditions. It’s an unselfish love you offer to others while expecting nothing in return.

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