March 17, 2021
On the weekend I attended an online meeting for a group that focuses on spirituality and spiritual deepening. As we gathered, and fell into our spiritual groove together, we shared how things were for us these days, and we were each asked to offer a word to describe what was stirring for us. The word that came to me was ‘emerging’. Some of that emerging is nature doing its thing – days lengthening, temperatures warming, signs of spring awakening. Some of my sense of emerging was personal too. There’s the emerging anticipation of my family selling/buying real estate this spring, the emerging hope of vaccine acquisition and distribution which will eventually lead to returns to some long unavailable rhythms, and the emerging realization that Lent is just about over and Holy Week and Easter are right in front of us. (See below.)
But the most profound emerging for me has been that I wrote a new song last week! Apart from some kids songs, and a couple of new choruses for old hymns, I haven’t done any ‘serious’ song-writing for a couple of years now. I noticed a couple of months ago that some lyric and music fragments were starting to emerge. And then in preparation for an upcoming awareness and fundraising event (March 27th) for our ministry partners in El Salvador I found myself offering to contribute a song. Except I don’t have any El Salvador songs. Well, at least I didn’t. Now I do! I took a really evocative set of chords that had been ‘emerging’ for me and married them to some poetry I had written while in El Salvador a couple of years ago, and with a bit of massaging the song emerged. Singer-songwriter James Taylor says that for him the songs are already there waiting for him, and he just has to get quiet enough to listen. Then he says he gets to be the first person to hear them into being. This is profoundly true for me. I had to get quiet enough to hear the music. That is easier said than done when the noisiness of one’s brain is swirling like a whirlwind.
You can only do so much to get quiet. Your circumstances sometimes only permit you to go so far. It’s unreasonable to lay on an expectation of peaceful, silent bliss when your life is anything but peaceful and silent. But when it does start to happen – when you can feel something emerging – that nudge, that twinge, that inspiration, that extra bit of noticing – I hope you will try to give it some attention and intention. It comes out as songs for me – it could be something else entirely for you. It’s not the thing that matters – it’s the quiet – and letting God’s Spirit move – and then receiving what emerges.