This morning I became lost in our opening and closing jazz reflections -
and it was heaven. I mean lost, of course, in a good way. A soulful way. A way wherein I went deep into the music and simultaneously the music went deep into me. It was cathartic and grounding. It framed and cradled the totality of worship. And, as you might have guessed, it ministered to me with a grace beyond words and even presence.
Afterwards I thought of this new poem by Mary Oliver in her book Blue Horses. It comes from an extended series called "The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac."
I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you're in it all the same.
So why not get started immediately.
I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.
And to write music or poems about.
Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
You could live a hundred years, it's happened.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be as urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.
For reasons greater than myself I feel renewed in ministry after my father's death. This stuff matters. Loving one another matters. Nourishing real compassion matters. Practicing and cultivating gratitude matters. So does letting it go and so that forgiveness can do the heavy lifting.
Maybe that's why I am so into worship. So saturated with the grace of the closing of the church year - and the dawning of Advent. Today I invited our children - and all of the adults, too - to learn to pray with some of our hymns. First we felt the angst and humility a midst God's comfort in "Precious Lord." It aches and embraces our souls all at the same time. Then we tried "Seek Ye First" - with its soaring descant - that can only make you smile and give thanks to be alive.
As I left church later in the day, I was clear that this stuff really does matters - our songs matter - they can provide solace and shape and form to our grieving in ways that move us beyond the pit. They can keep us sane in the presence of cruelty and pain. They can point towards the hope of God's love when all we can experience is sorrow. So like Ms. Oliver says: why not get started - immediately - belonging to life? Here's the song we'll close our Thanksgiving Eve gig with... kind of rings true to my heart these days, yes?
photo credits: Dianne De Mott
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