Saturday, July 7, 2018

songs from the choirs of paradox...

A small but wonderfully nuanced choir is starting to sing songs of paradox these days into the apocalypse now cacophony of the USA. It is by no means our national anthem any more than "Let America Be America Again (It Never Was to Me)" by Langston Hughes has found a hallowed place at Trump rallies. But the voices of this choir are beginning to be heard around the edges of the madness. And as Hebrew Bible scholar, Walter Brueggemann, notes: God's new song is almost always first sung from the periphery. The borderland between wilderness and mainstream society is where creativity, compassion and connection are re imagined. 

In fact, Brueggemann urges those prone to despair to rediscover the forgotten and marginalized texts of our Scripture for clues: we are not the first people to be in this morass - and we won't be the last. Our great cloud of witnesses from times past once learned the hard way how to honestly ground themselves in reality so that they might boldly grieve. In time they came to understand that this was how their hearts and minds became open to the sacred surprises God ached to bring to birth within and among them. Start with "by the waters of Babylon," stay by the River Chebar as long as necessary, and keep your ear open for a new song stirring from beyond the grief that is of the Lord's creation. 

Valerie Kaur and William Barber are part of this new choir in their work of revolutionary love. Two of my favorite poets from the periphery - Parker Palmer and Carrie Newcomer - have been listening to songs offered up by the waters of Babylon, too. On Krista Tippet's "On Being" program, they put it like this:

During a decade of friendship and collaboration in words and music, the two of us have often talked about the endless dance of darkness and light that challenges and enriches everyone’s life. Then came an April 2018 day when a dear friend of Carrie’s died in the early morning hours. Carrie had kept vigil at her bedside all night, singing and reading poetry as this good soul departed after years of living bravely and well with cancer. Later that morning, one of Parker’s good friends sent a video clip of the ultrasound she’d had that day, wanting to share the pure joy she and her husband felt about the new life that’s growing in her.

That afternoon, we talked about the way death and life, grief and joy, dance nonstop with each other around the world, day and night. It might not be a friend who dies; it might be a hope, or a work, or a relationship. It might not be a baby en route to being born; it might be a vision, an opportunity to learn or serve, or a small nudge towards who-knows-what.

To see life steadily and see it whole, we must find ways to hold the paradox of life-in-death and death-in-life. We can’t live lives of meaning and purpose if we succumb to the horrors of “apocalypse now” or fly off into the Aquarian fantasy of a day when “peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars.” 

(see the entire article @ eid=aaa79b290f&utm_campaign

Our new band, Famous Before We're Dead, is a part of this emerging social chorus of beauty, challenge, grief, silence and solidarity, too. Over the next few days I will share some of the sounds that I trust from within this chorus. They help me know that we are not alone. We are not going crazy. We don't have to reinvent the wheel. We are now learning to trust the darkness. And sing in harmony with others who know these songs better than ourselves. Here's one take on this with more to come...

No comments:

as the sun goes down...

Today was spent quietly cleaning our house: washing floors and clothes, wiping down counters and toilets, vacuuming, dusting and all the r...