Visions of Johanna...

For some reason, this song has been swimming around my head all day:

Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet ?
We sit here stranded, though we're all doin our best to deny it
And Louise holds a handfull of rain, tempting you to defy it
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough
The country music station plays soft
But there's nothing really nothing to turn off
Just Louise and her lover so entwined
And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind.

I love this crazy song - some say it is about Joan while others are certain it is an ode to Ginsberg - but I think St. Bobby is talking about the artist's quest to be open to the Spirit in pursuit of beauty in the flesh.  A challenge - a paradox - the heart and soul of living faithfully but "slant" like Emily Dickinson said, yes?  It feels like most of my ministry has been spent trying to find a way to do this song.  This verse just SLAYS me... STILL!
Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles
See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, "Jeeze
I can't find my knees"
Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
But these visions of Johanna, they make it all seem so cruel.

Any way...
... those old words have captured my heart once again because today was filled with preparations: an up-coming wedding and funeral, my father's 80th birthday, the hiring and orientation of a new music director, sorting out next steps for our Sunday School work, making plans for a new emphasis on "a ministry of presence" and visitation to say nothing of next month's worship series on "A Spirituality of Authentically Blended Worship." This will be a month pregnant with details waiting to come to birth as the fall unfolds. I want to give them all my prayerful attention.

So, to get some perspective - and much needed exercise - we headed into the woods this afternoon towards "Beaver Dam" in Beckett.  Quiet rolling hills where the stillness did it's work - and we dropped a few gallons of sweat!  For four years, we have been carefully working at a ministry of renewal.  There have been a few mountain top moments - a number of months spent wandering in the wilderness - and a few painful times in the valley of the shadow of death.  It seems as if we are now poised to take another important step towards spiritual and numerical renewal.  Our conversations are moving towards towards community trust and greater depth and our programming and planning are grounded in compassion and prayer.  What's more, there is an abiding sense that as we wait on the Lord, all things become possible.

All of this planning - preparation - and prayer made me think of another American genius, Scott Cairns, who has also been floating through my heart and soul today
Your petitions—though they continue to bear  
just the one signature—have been duly recorded.  
Your anxieties—despite their constant,
relatively narrow scope and inadvertent  
entertainment value—nonetheless serve  
to bring your person vividly to mind.
Your repentance—all but obscured beneath  
a burgeoning, yellow fog of frankly more  
conspicuous resentment—is sufficient.
Your intermittent concern for the sick,  
the suffering, the needy poor is sometimes  
recognizable to me, if not to them.
Your angers, your zeal, your lipsmackingly  
righteous indignation toward the many  
whose habits and sympathies offend you—         
these must burn away before you’ll apprehend  
how near I am, with what fervor I adore
precisely these, the several who rouse your passions.
And now it is time to rest - a fix something sweet for supper - before heading to bed and then worship in the morning.  It has been a good day.


Di said…
That would be Basin Pond, on Beaver Dam Rd. Just to be sure all our Berkshire friends know that we know where we were. Which we don't always, in these hills...
Black Pete said…
Actually, your non-Berkshire friends were wondering, too! :)

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