Monday, January 15, 2018

Sweet Darkness




When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone, 
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your home
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.


— David Whyte

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Trough



 
Trough
 
There is a trough in waves,
A low spot
Where horizon disappears
And only sky
And water
Are our company.
 
And there we lose our way
Unless
We rest, knowing the wave will bring us
To its crest again.
 
There we may drown
If we let fear
Hold us within its grip and shake us
Side to side,
And leave us flailing, torn, disoriented.
 
But if we rest there
In the trough,
Are silent,
Being with
The low part of the wave,
Keeping
Our energy and
Noticing the shape of things,
The flow,
Then time alone
Will bring us to another
Place
Where we can see
Horizon, see the land again,
Regain our sense
Of where
We are,
And where we need to swim.
 
~ Judy Brown ~
 
(The Sea Accepts All Rivers)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why all this music?


 
To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That's crudely put, but ...
 
If we're not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?
 

~ Gregory Orr ~

 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own



This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities. 
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest. 
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
~ Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero ~
(murdered on March 24, 1980)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns



     The first time I put on pianist Deanna Witkowski’s new CD, “Make the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns,” I was busy in my apartment and not really listening. Notes wafted in and out of my consciousness, though, and I would stop because they were so beautiful.  

     The next time I played it was under similar circumstances, except then I found myself singing along, not fully aware I was singing until I realized I know that music.  Witkowski, an award-winning composer following in the paths of Duke Ellington and Mary Lou Williams, has reimagined 14 classic Christian hymns into her world of jazz for trio arrangements that one can listen to for inspiration by day or for entertainment with a glass of wine by night.  I’ve been enjoying them both ways.

   Makes the Heart to Sing is part of a larger project that includes the publication of a folio of Witkowski's arrangements. 

     "It's an instrumental jazz trio record, but the mission is to get this music played more widely outside of church and to bring these jazz interpretations into circulation inside churches,” she says.  “The album is almost a demo for church music directors, and the arrangements are meant for congregational singing.”

     Joining Witkowski on the recording are Daniel Foose on bass and Scott Latzky on drums.  I love the way they move from a lively “Hyfrydol” (“Loves Divine, All Love Excelling”) to a gentle “There is a Balm in Gilead.”  With Epiphany on the horizon Jan. 6, I’ve especially been enjoying the trio’s swinging interpretation of “We Three Kings.”  It is cabaret room ready!

     This is the second CD of sacred jazz I have from Witkowski, winner of the 2002 Great American Jazz Piano Competition.  I’ve been enjoying From This Place since its release in 2009.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Mary



Mary

It wasn’t that long ago
that he’d spoken these stars
into being
and this woman’s life
was just a thought in his mind.
He’d smiled down on her birth
and entered her name in his pages
perhaps with an asterisk
denoting plans too sacred to be spoken
but pondered in his heart.
Now, newborn,
in wide-eyed wonder
he gazes up at his creation.
His hand that hurled the world
holds tight his mother’s finger.
Holy light
spills across her face
and she weeps
silent wondering tears
to know she holds the One
who has so long held her.

By Joan Rae Mills
Compiled by Sarah Arthur


Friday, December 15, 2017

Glory Happening



     I like to read from a spiritual book as part of my morning prayer.  Right now I’m enjoying Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places by Kaitlin B. Curtice, a Native American Christian author, speaker and worship leader.

     The book has an incarnational spirit, with its stories of everyday life followed by the moving and straightforward prayers Curtice has written.  I’m especially touched by the one that follows her reflection on The Practice of Patience.  She writes, “Hydrate our souls with the kind power of your Mystery.”  I love the idea of asking God to hydrate my soul. I say that now as I walk out my front door each day.  

     The book is divided into eight parts, each with about a half-dozen reflections on her life and how she finds the glory of God in its ordinariness. Sections include Creation, Light, Voice and Kingdom.  A scripture passage begins each reflection.

     "The Kingdom, in this case, is the daily manifestation of shalom," she writes in her Introduction. "The Kingdom is presence, a full alertness of living here and now.  It is living within the reality of peace in every circumstance.  And we move toward Kingdom as we live in glory, in all its manifestations for us.  Like a timeline, like seasons, we experience glory as a process."

     Glory Happening is a reminder to be in the moment because that is where we find God. When we take time to notice, we find that wherever we are, God is.