The festival of American music and poetry...

Our annual Festival of American Music and Poetry is just five weeks away: the publicity posters are ready to be picked up and displayed (starting tomorrow), I have begun rehearsing the ad hoc gospel choir (more work to be sure but a great beginning last week) and a tentative set list is now in motion (we shall keep revising as the weeks mature.) I have a GREAT sound man for that evening and even two of the congregation's youngest guitar players are IN for the gig.

Earlier today I came across two observations that give some shape and form to why I continue to celebrate American music and poetry each year at Thanksgiving. Richard Rohr, writing from the Franciscan tradition, writes:

Hugh of St. Victor (1078-1141) and Richard of St. Victor (1123-1173) wrote that humanity was given three sets of eyes, each building on the previous one. The first eye was the eye of the flesh (thought or sight), the second was the eye of reason (meditation or reflection), and the third eye was the eye of true understanding (contemplation). I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the separation and loss of these three necessary eyes is at the basis of much of the short-sightedness and religious crises of the Western world. Lacking such wisdom, it is very difficult for churches, governments, and leaders to move beyond ego, the desire for control, and public posturing. Everything divides into oppositions such as liberal vs. conservative, with vested interests pulling against one another. Truth is no longer possible at this level of conversation. Even theology becomes more a quest for power than a search for God and Mystery.

And Brian Woodcock, a member of my own Reformed tradition, tell us that:

Being spiritual is not the same as being religious. Religion is about what you believe and do. Spirituality is what to do with quality; it is a matter of the heart. Religion draws lines while spirituality reads between them. It tends to avoid definitions, boundaries and battles. It is inclusive and holistic… it is characterized by sensitivity, gentleness, depth, openness, flow, feeling, quietness, wonder, paradox, acceptance and waiting.

My experience has always been that all of the creative arts help me claim "eyes to see" and move in the way of the Spirit. Writer Dallas Willard once observed that most of us today live on the Emmaus Road. All around us God is pouring out something of the sacred into our hearts, minds, souls and lives and yet we have been conditioned NOT to see:

We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than the one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage - as long as you have doubt. (NOTE: I do not sense that doubt is the absence of faith but a counter intuitive way of opening to God.) The fashion of the age has identified mental sharpness with a pose, not with genuine intellectual method and character. Only a very hardy individualist or social rebel - or one desperate for another life - stands any chance of discovering the depth and promise of the spiritual life today.

So... we share the depth of joy and sorrow in music and poetry on Thanksgiving Eve because like the Quakers: how can I KEEP from singing!?! I don't do share music to be didactic or manipulative, but simply to say: the Spirit of God is alive and well - can you feel it - can you claim it - are you alive? Here's a tune Dianne has sensed she wants to share at this festival in this very spirit...

Comments

RJ said…
I so wish you were here for this, my man!
Philomena Ewing said…
Oh so beautiful. Your posts are always inspired and this one is a gift.I wish you all the very best for the festival and hope you rock !!
I am in the UK so can't be there but look forward to hearing some samples !
Blessings
RJ said…
Thanks, Philomena, you will be in our thoughts as we rock out...

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