Let my prayer rise...

We cleaned house, baked meat pies, and cared for Lucie today. I spent some time with Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," too with its wonderful bass line. And then, after all was finished, we read aloud from the book, The Art of Aging: Celebrating the Authentic Aging Self, by Alice and Richard Matzkin: a perfect Sabbath.
One of the thoughts that fills my prayers before I fall asleep most nights - and shapes my practice of the upright bass during this sabbatical - is that I ache to share the joy and depth of grace in music that I have been blessed to know over the years with others. One of my hopes for ministry on the other side of this time of rest and renewal is that we will not only strengthen the beauty and diversity of music that we share with God and one another on Sunday mornings, but that we will find new and creative ways of taking this gift out into the wide community. It feels to me as if my key musical colleagues and I are on the cusp of something profound, so let me elaborate:

+ Nobody in our area cares much about church, but we do care about compassion. We care a lot about nourishing the common good. We care about healing Mother Earth. And becoming allies for racial and gender justice. And finding ways to diminish gun violence to say nothing of fortifying the well-being of our children. Sadly, given the hate agenda of parts of the Christian Church, very few people who share our social values trust us. Hell, I don't even trust us some days. As my old mentor Ray Swartzback used to tell me time and again: we have to earn our street cred - we have to prove over and again that we are willing to lay down our lives for one another - because authenticity is not portable. It has to be documented by real, loving deeds. One of my dreams is to continue to link our music making with our allies in the environmental movement, the racial and gender justice movements. Let's use our gifts to care for others rather than just our institution.

+ My hunch is that our music making can also become a forum for inter-faith solidarity and advancing some of the ideas of Parker Palmer in Healing the Heart of Democracy. Carrie Newcomer is already doing some of this with Palmer in various locales in the MIdwest and I want to make it happen in our region, too. Pope Francis is modeling this too by bringing together a host of scholars and artists from different backgrounds and ideology to build a movement to heal the earth for the sake of God and the poor. I know in my soul that music, poetry, feasting and discussion can be a gentle way to reclaim the lost art of conversation and civility for the cause of love and peace. This truth energizes me and saturates my heart with hope.

So, as the second half of this sabbatical time starts to mature, I am dedicated to sharpening my craft and exploring the contours of jazz and liturgy. As this day comes to a close, my heart moves to Deanna Witkowski's setting of Psalm 141.


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