Frère Jacques...

No matter how hard I tried, I could not get on top of today:  we were late arriving for
worship, I never picked-up the final draft of the liturgy, by the time we did a sound check it was time to start playing the "gathering music" and I still had to pee. What's more, no matter how hard we have tried to help Lucie (our dog) become more socialized, she just can't pick up the natural cues from other people or animals and continues to get freaked-out. And on a Sunday given over to the blessing of the animals - and we had a number of beautiful dogs plus two guinea pigs - her insecurity didn't help things go any smoother.

I discovered (after the fact) that the Psalm text I had was different from what was printed in the bulletin - which threw off our meditative music. So by the time I got to my message I felt rushed and incomplete - not a train wreck nor without value - but not the gentle conversation I had intended. Rumi's admonition about being careful about what we hope for comes to mind:

Who makes these changes?
I shoot an arrow right.
It lands left.
I ride after a deer and find myself
chased by a hog.
I plot to get what I want
and end up in prison.
I dig pits to trap others
and fall in.

I should be suspicious
of what I want.


It was one of the days when no matter how I tried or felt, there was nothing I could do to make things turn out better. A wise person would have accepted this, owned her frustration as a simple fact and let it go. Like a fellow musician told me: "When you are practicing you really see what type of day you are having, right? Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it all falls apart; other times things are popping and moving so smoothly all you can do is give thanks." But I didn't really pay attention to what is wise. So, once again today I had to learn that when events start to go South, I often try too hard to correct them - and it mostly never helps. I wind up frustrated and exhausted and my interaction with those I love becomes frayed.

Now here's the fascinating take away: several people spoke to me after worship today and told me how insightful they experienced my message and how comforting they found our meditative jazz. I am fretting - and they are grooving. Damn, if Rumi isn't right: I SHOULD be suspicious of what I want - and also what I think and feel, too. But besides our closing number "All God's Creatures (Children) Got Rhythm," the part of today's worship that spoke to my heart was a riff on "Frère Jacques." After talking about salvation as God's presence in our ordinary lives that brings us freedom, healing and hope - and asking people Barbara Brown Taylor's question "Where is your life being saved right now?" - I continued:

While in Montréal I rediscovered a children's song that began to save my life:Frère Jacques. Maybe, like me, you've known it all your life and learned to sing it phonetically. I really didn't know what the simple words meant until this summer.  It starts with a call to Frère Jacques - a friar - a brother by the name of James. Now a friar is one who cares for the whole community - he shares love, brings food and finds shelter for those in need, and encourages God's people to live lives of worship. But not as a priest - or as a pastor - or even as the abbot of a monastery. No, as a brother - an equal - one who loves the Lord without rank, authority or hierarchy. And here's the delightful thing I learned about this song this summer: it asks if the brother is resting - sleeping - because the bells of Matins are ringing. Sonnez les matines - the music of the morning's first office is sounding with the bells - so will you come join the community in prayer, please?

And then we sang Frère Jacques - first in unison and then as a round - and as often happens, when we sing in community spontaneously it is... heavenly. Later, Carlton masterfully incorporated it into his piano meditation during Eucharist, too. THAT felt right to me - like the unforced rhythms of grace Jesus mentioned in the reading from Matthew - which, of course, was the other take away: even when I am frustrated, fretting and frayed God still sends me something of the unforced rhythms of grace so that I might trust and rest. I know I am a slow, thick learner. So I give thanks for this day (in spite of myself!) Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines, ding, dang, dong.

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