A New Heart Song

cropped-2014-08-04-19-35-07.jpg

I have frequently referred to songs that speak to my Spirit as “heart songs.” Today I heard a new one and wanted to commend it to you.

Josh Garrels’ song May You Find a Light is gentle, encouraging, and speaks to the real need we all have to find fellow travelers on this road. It makes all the difference when we hit a rough patch. I believe that there is a Divine answer to this longing. Sometimes it’s a gentle whisper, but we have to stop long enough to hear it.

Even though today I am in a pretty centered and peaceful place, I resonated with the words. Maybe you will, too.

And may we all find a Light when we need it most. And may we each BE that Light for someone else.


Produced by: Josh Garrels & Isaac Wardell
Album: The Light Came Down

[Verse 1]
Lost and weary traveler
Searching for the way to go
Stranger, heavy-hearted
Longing for someone to know

[Chorus]
May you find a Light
May you find a Light
May you find a Light to guide you home

[Verse 2]
There are weary travelers
Searching everywhere you go
Strangers who are searching
Longing deeply to be known

[Chorus]
May you find a Light
May you find a Light
May you find a Light to guide you home

Seek the beautiful

Photo Credit: “Grumpy cat”, © 2013 WXRob, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

I’m so tired of ugly words and mean people. Really ugly words. And really mean people. And I’m using vague and trite-sounding words because I can’t write the string of profanities that would flow from my mouth and melt my keyboard.

I’m not kidding. That ugly. That @#*$!!! is mean.

Here’s reality: hard things come into our lives.
Here’s hope: these hard things don’t have to define you.

I’ve seen it over and over… from my work in hospice and in hospitals, in churches, in schools, in non-profits, and in corporations. Some people define themselves by the worst days of their lives. And others use those experiences to sharpen their goals and trudge on, trying again. It is so easy to be negative and complain. It’s hard to try again when you’ve failed… (Especially with the nay-sayers commenting, “Well you can try, but you know, it’s really not going to work.”)

That’s what I call “concretized thinking.” A mindset that is so determined that nothing will change, and the end result is inescapable. All possible alternatives are dismissed. Admitting you are struggling is a sign that you either “aren’t really trying” or “are a whiner.” Serious questions are ignored.

Enough!

Most of what we bitch about is small potatoes. It’s inconsequential. It is not life-threatening. I confess I get caught up in this… and that I have to reboot now and then… like I did this evening.

Tonight I focused on a piece of music, with its haunting melody and lush harmonies… I listened to it with my headphones on and soaked in the beauty. I invite you to do the same!

There is tension in our world. There are unanswered questions. But… there is a way through the discord, the dissonance, the unresolvable. There is a way to breathe, dream, persevere and join with others on the same path.

And there is… at the very end… peace.

What cometh before a fall?

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

So says the writer of Proverbs, anyway. (16:18 if you’re playing along for points.)

This evening just before things were completely dark outside, I heard our wind chimes singing mightily in the back yard. I rushed out the back door, grateful the rain had stopped, if only for a moment or two. The chimes were glorious and a fitting “Amen” to a weekend of rain and wind. And then… I hit a slick spot on the slate pavers on our patio and went DOWN in a glorious splat.

Yes. Ow. Very much ow.

IMG_4914I sat there for a moment, the wind knocked out of me, in pain. Nothing appeared broken. The only thing sprained is my dignity (even though no one was there to see my acrobatics, I did have to text my beloved to come and help me stand up, as I was shocked and wobbly.) I left a large dry spot on the slate approximately the size of my backside, and a lovely mossy skid mark on my jeans.

The Proverbs quote came to mind. I don’t believe it was a haughty spirit that caused my butt-first landing. I thought wryly to myself that actually, in this case, inattention came before the fall. Or maybe it was rushing. Or perhaps multi-tasking.

Sometimes stuff just happens. This wasn’t out of meanness. It wasn’t to teach me some cosmic lesson. It was just the cumulative effect of six inches of rain in 3 days on a slate patio.

My pants will wash and I imagine any bruises I’ve collected will fade in a week or two. At the moment, I’m headed for the couch with an ice pack and an afghan and maybe some crocheting. It’s not been the best of weeks, to be honest. But not the worst, either. I’m grateful for friends, for family, for a steadying hand when I need it the most.

Whatever has caused you to fall flat today, may you leave the buttprints behind, and know that the universe is not conspiring against you, either.

A heart song that has been speaking to me this week is this song “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. May it encourage you.

O Joy?

oJoy

There is this strange idea in some strands of Christianity that we will never have problems or have “bad things happen” if we are truly Jesus-loving people. As if.

From the first fig leaf, humanity has seen and known pain, discouragement and doubt. But that’s not what sells, is it?

The kiddie Bible my kids had growing up reinforced this. All the characters (who were remarkably Caucasian looking… which is another essay…) were all smiling and content. There were a few pictures of the Israelites frowning about manna burgers, I guess. And maybe a few tears at the tombs of Lazarus and Jesus, but the Christian faith was, for the most part, this “in-right-out-right-up-right-down-right-happy-all-the-time” religion. (That song still makes me shudder. And bonus points to you if you don’t know it. If I just gave you an ear worm, I’m sorry!)

I’m not suggesting we teach children “life sucks and then you die” either (just to be clear). But there needs to be a balance. Enough of a balance that when the hard times come, there is a reserve of faith that says, “I will get through this… with the help of God and God’s people.”

We live in disturbing times. Frustrating times. Fear-mongering times. Hate speech fills the airwaves.

This should not surprise us. It is as much a part of our Christian lives as walking in joy and seeing glory! A full-rounded faith does celebrate, but it also mourns. We are called to  embracing pain. Accepting change. Finding hope in the unknown. Making sense out of nonsense.

When I was thinking about the world’s events over the last few months, the old hymn by Robert Matheson came to mind. How often do I remember that God is made real in our lives is many ways?

A Love that will not let me go…
A Light that follows my way…
A Joy that seeks me through pain…
The cross that lifts up my head…
(Full lyrics here.)

Yes, it’s a schmaltzy old hymn. But the thread of faith through the verses brings me some comfort and courage. Perhaps you, as well.

O Joy? Yes. Joy. One frustrated, tired, hoping, yearning step at a time. There’s joy.

From my journal recently:

I’d like to know why, God.
I really would.
I could go through the whole alphabet of whys…
And I can say trite words and cheap phrases
to make myself feel better…
But that’s not how faith works.

And every time I think I might understand
A little more
Another piece of insight into Your world,
Some tsunami of stupid knocks me flat.
And here I am
Again.
Asking why.

So there’s doubts.
O God, so many doubts.
And there’s pain.
I’m tired of pain.
But then… There’s beauty and grace and love
And laughter and hope and joy,
so much joy!!
And the Spirit winging me upward
for just a glimpse
for just a taste of Glory.

And it’s enough.
It’s enough to say one more day,
I love you.
Thank you.
Let’s do this thing called “life”
one more day.

SDG

Sept 2017

Thank you for making me practice…

20130324-001122.jpg
My piano.

I sat down at her piano and started to play…

Joy to the world, the Lord is come… O come, O come, Emmanuel… The first noel the angels did say… What Child is this who laid to rest…

She sat in her wheelchair and listened, eyes bright and focused. She hummed a little, tapped her foot. Her caregiver looked over at me and nodded with happiness.

“More?” I asked her.

“Oh yes… please! And can you sing?”

I started playing some more…

“O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining!
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.”

My fingers fumbled a little. Blame it on bifocals, or a lack of practice, I didn’t always get the key signature right. “Oops! Sorry! 5 flats!” I said. “That should be D flat!”

It brought back memories of my dad hollering correcting notes from the other room. His perfect pitch was annoying at times. How many hours did I practice? More than I wanted to, for certain.

But that day in her living room, watching her smile with such contentment, I said a silent thank you to my parents for making me practice all those years ago.