As you may know I am single parenting and leaving today(!) on a six-week Friends-and-Family tour of the U.S. — our first time “home” in a year and a half! Thus, the slow blogging. I’m hoping to get the next DO LESS installment up on Choosing the Essentials. But the essentials may mean that’s a 3-hour writing session might be non-essential for one more week. We’ll see. Stay Tuned.
Hopefully this week’s *8Things will tide you over, because its a good one in that it requires both a little creativity AND ya’ll will be a great resource to each other if you complete it. (Filling up the Giant Pool of Wisdom one bucket full of goodness at a time!)
Church music used to be a very important part of my relationship with God, and not just music we sang at church but worship CDs and music I would play on my instruments. However, I’ve been a little shocked to find over the past year that this music has lost all relevance for me. Only one or two of the songs in our church’s entire repertoire mean anything to me, and the rest are just a matter for endurance. My question: Is music still a part of your spirituality, and if so, how does it apply? Have you found a way to bring it with you into the uncharted regions of the map?
I have written a little bit about how things stopped working over here, and I’d like to write more about that shift someday. … I figure this is a challenge not only for those of us in various stages of Leaving (or re-forming) Church, but also for folks who aren’t in an organized religion but who find a spiritual connection through music. (approx. one kazillion souls)
So, what *8 Songs connect you to the Divine? Songs that aren’t classically “religious” or “church music” but create a harmonic bridge to all things holy. Songs that soothe the soul. Songs that encourage and shore you up. Songs that connect you to something bigger and beyond, or more deeply and truly to the here/now. What songs are just Good Medicine? Do tell…and if you have time link us to online versions and youtube videos, just for fun. Here’s my list of *8 Songs for the Soul.
1. I Don’t Want to Waste Your Time, Over the Rhine from The Trumpet Child: this song is good medicine when I need some strengthening tonic in order to step out of the fray of various kinds of arguments, or to move through religious power struggles.
3. Gravity, John Mayer from Continuum. I know, I know. I’m a manic fan. But he’s a brilliant songwriter, he’s really open about his artistic journey, and he’s a top notch guitarist. This song keeps me anchored when times are hard. I listened to it on repeat every night when we first moved here and every day in February. “Just keep me where the light is.”
4. Ubi Caritas, Taize Chant: “Where there is love, there is God.” These are very much religious songs, but I find them to be accessible and touching, even though I trends toward the heretical. Many Taize songs are in Latin, a ‘dead’ language in that no one uses it as their common tongue — and thus is belongs to no one people group, and therefore can be commonly owned by all. Taize songs are sung on repeat by the congregants, with a solo line in voice or instrument carrying over the top. This symbolizes the reality that somewhere in the world, there are always people praying — so the prayer of the many (the congregant chants) supports the prayer of the one (the solo), and the prayer of the one enhances the prayer of the many. Last week when I was boo-hooing in church, I sang it out loud, even though it was only meant to be background for the offeratory. Thankfully the professional opera singer in front of me smiled benevolently and joined in. Taize chants convey universal truths that are helpful on many spiritual adventures.
5. Yahweh, U2 from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. It’s hard to feel jaded around Bono and the Boys. When the girls were toddlers we had a rule, no one gets out of the car until Yahweh is done playing. Many a minute was spent in the driveway listening to baby lisps sing “Take dis soul stwanded in some skin and bones, take dis soul and make it sing.” And as I transitioned out of organized religion, so full of anger and loss, I held on to these words with both hands: ” Take these hands teach them what to carry, take these hands, don’t make a fist. Take this mouth, so quick to criticize, take this mouth give it a kiss.” There’s always pain before the child is born, but there’s also an ocean of love. Hold on.
8. Breathe In, Breathe Out, Matt Kearney. My housemate Sharon has a t-shirt that says “Breathe In, Breathe Out. Repeat.” It’s ridiculous how many times I need to be reminded to do that. This dreamy little song hooks me back up to that reality when things get panicky.
7. Bold as Love, Jimmy Hendrix via John Mayer, Where the Light Is (Live). Poetic lyrics, passionate instrumentation, and the best sermon I’ve ever heard smack dab in the middle. “I’vedone everything in my life that I want to do except just give and receive love for my living. And I don’t mean Hollywood, roman candle, hot pink love…I mean like I’ve GOT YOUR BACK love! So I’m gonna experiment with this love thing…giving love, receiving love. I know it sounds really corny but it’s the last thing I’ve got to check out, before I check out. Take me to the chorus, cuz I’m Bold as Love.” Can I get a witness?
6. Coming Up Easy, Paolo Nutini from Sunny Side Up. Most of the lyrics on this song are on Paolo’s main and most annoying theme – which is something like: ”wow you smell good and I love you like a rock, but also…um…also there are a LOT of women out there.” This is the downside of being a little bit brilliant and a little bit 22-and-male. None the less, the closing refrain of this new song rocks me to my socks. “It was in love I was created and in love is how I hope I die.” Amen to that, my randy little brutha.
What are your *8Songs for the Soul? Grab a button and play along, or put your list in the comments below.