A year ago yesterday Ben Howard put out his second full-length album, I Forget Where We Were, but the title track struck me in a new way this week. “I Forget Where We Were” has typically been interpreted, by myself and other internet-ers, as a song about reacquainting oneself with a previous phase of life, maybe a relationship or a season—just trying to get back in the groove.

But I recently noticed a lyric that stirred a different interpretation for me: “I was watching Syria…I forget where we were.” I have no idea what he’s actually getting at, but this time it hit me as somewhat Joban: when God pops out of the whirlwind to question Job, asking, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Job is kind of like, “I don’t know.” “Where were you when Syria was blowing to pieces?” “I forget.” Where was I when Syria began to fall apart in 2011? In class, probably, stressing about a paper, studying the tension between the social implications and literary values of a sentence in an early twentieth century novel. Where was I when refugees needed food and shelter in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015? I really don’t have a good alibi.

“I Forget Where We Were” has probably one of the most boring music videos I can think of, and I’m hoping that’s somewhat intentional. It features these very stylized young people, very artsy looking, just sitting on the beach not doing anything. A building appears across the ocean, and they watch as it crumbles. It seems to be a condemning picture of a generation lacking compassion. Even the good that we might do is somehow evil, serving to pad a resume or to stroke a significance-seeking ego. But I identify very much with the hipsters in the video, because I am heavy with inaction. Sometimes an ideological spin prevents me from doing good, and sometimes it’s just fear.

One perceived benefit of the technology age, ‘the Age of Information,’ is that the increase in communication reminds us of the state of the world and shows us visually through headlines and Facebook posts that the earth is falling to shambles, and we have no answers for that.

“I Forget Where We Were” makes me wonder about the classic pearly gates scenario: When I get up to the gates of heaven, and my life is evaluated, I imagine that I will finally stand face to face with a Syrian refugee who will show me his battle scars and ask where were you? And I will think back on my life, at the things I was concerned with, and I will say, I’m sorry, I just don’t remember where I was.

Ben Howard has another song, maybe the best one on the album, called “Time is Dancing.” It starts,

Wrapped up in dissonance
I’m sorry that I just walked away

Lost in the insignificance of mine
I had no words to say

Now I am better
I implore you to say it isn’t right

But somewhere deep in history
Your father pulled the teeth out of your fight

There’s no question that these lyrics are about grace. The first line is ripe for use as a prayer of repentance: “I’m sorry that I just walked away.” I’m sorry that I turned a blind eye to the refugee crisis, and to human trafficking, and hunger, and poverty, and that I didn’t help more.

When I get to the pearly gates, the truth will be revealed, and I will see clearly that I was wrong, that “it isn’t right.” I will know that I deserve justice, but in some twist of reality, at some point, it will also become clear that retribution isn’t as interesting as forgiveness: at some point, “deep in history, your father pulled the teeth out of your fight.”

Is this free parking? Is it too easy? In the live version of “Time Is Dancing,” Ben Howard adds some extra lyrics, and he asks these very same questions:

I am still not free
No the man still stands over me
I have food that I can eat
But the man put poison in the seeds
I am tired and I am weak
But my hands are soft and they are clean
Do you really believe
That a savior’s gonna do it all for free?

It’s such a good question that I don’t want to answer it too quickly. All I can say now is that nothing is free: whatever freedom, grace, goodness is given, comes at a very high cost, paid fully and completely on the cross. On his shoulders, Jesus felt the pain of the refugee crisis, and my inadequacy to respond to it, to even feel compassion for it. The command to “love your neighbor as yourself” is perfect and right; but its standard is so high that we will all fall short, ultimately. And failing this, the new command is to repent: “I’m sorry that I just walked away.”

God has the “whole world in his hands,” and the whole weight of it pressing down on him on the cross. I can’t imagine what the experience of the refugee is, and I’m no better than our best foreign policiers–I have no answers, just sympathy. But I do trust that a savior “did it all,” not for free, but for all of us.