Helplessly hoping...

"How good and pleasant it is, when sisters and brothers live together in unity! It is like fine oil upon the head that runs down the beard of Aaron (brother of Moses and first High Priest of Israel) and on to the collar of his robe. Unity and cooperation is like the dew that falls on Mt. Hermon that falls upon the hills of Zion. For there the Lord has ordained this blessing: life for evermore."

As I anticipate working ever more closely with area musicians in the Berkshires - not only on our Thanksgiving Eve projects of sharing music and poetry of gratitude with others (and maybe raising some money to help those in need of emergency heat) but in building a loving and respectful interfaith community of cooperation and trust - two truths continue to grow strong: First, when people of spirit move together and find ways of expressing and sharing beauty with others - in music, art and acts of compassion - we find a deep unity that transcends our differences. We found great solidarity recently with lots of sisters and brothers cleaning the river over the last few months. Same is true building Habitat houses in Pittsfield or in New Orleans. Or feeding our neighbors who are hungry. A deep sense of respect and unity is born when we find ways of being together for the common good.

Crosby, Stills and Nash come to mind in this regard: I remember growing up with the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Hollies (to say nothing of Dylan, the Beatles and the Stones.) But when these cats sang together - on their first album and in the various CSN&Y incarnations of the years - they brought all these gifts together to create something deeper and more beautiful. Just take a listen to "Helplessly Hoping" from 1969...

Second, as Psalm 133 suggests, when we open ourselves to going deeper into beauty and compassion - regardless of ideology or even religious tradition - the whole community experiences a saturation of blessing. The ancient poet of Israel speaks of the oil saturating Aaron's beard and gown and the dew "descending all the way from Mt. Hermon up to Syria, down to Jerusalem and into Judah." (Christ in the Psalms, Patrick Henry Reardon, p. 266)

That is why, I suspect, James Hillman urges us to speak of depth rather than growth: we need to mature, ripen, percolate and gestate rather than simply expand, grow or multiply. One of my favorite poets, Coleman Barks sharing the wisdom of Rumi, puts it like this in "Love Dogs" as he speaks of depth and emptiness...

Today a young man came into my study and spoke of spiritual questions and when I found myself sharing this very poem we were both speechless for a moment... and then I gave him a volume of Rumi poems that just happened to be sitting on my desk. (Just happened... yes?) Less than an hour later I was eating with another man who told me of his quest to bring a great jazz organist to the area - an artist who has worked with Paul Winter - an artist he met earlier this summer in Nova Scotia who just happens to have family in our area.

How good and pleasant it is, indeed, when sisters and brothers dwell together... in unity.


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