Saturday, August 31, 2013

Geneology of a Song

I love music.  No, really.  I don't just enjoy it.  It is the food of my soul.

When I first became conscious of God in my life - that is, the presence of the other, the holy, the numinous - I was about 8 or 9 years old.  Sure, I knew about God through Church: mom dragged me there week after week.  At that point in my life, however, I became aware that something was there...  I'll be honest, it took me a few more years to connect the 'God of Church' to 'the wonderful-other-presnce.'

Anyway, what I'm trying to get at is that from that first moment of the awareness of God, my natural response has been to sing, and by extension, when I listen to music, it often awakes in me that great awareness again.  So I love music - it draws me into the presence of God.

This is not necessarily connected to the 'quality' of the music, though I am a great lover of 'classical' music from all periods and cultures.  Even some of the most vacuous pop can touch me if even one element 'connects.'

After becoming a musician myself I also became engrossed in the geneology of songs.  Where did they come from?  Why?  What is at the heart of this song?

So, before you read any further, I want you to set aside some time to journey with me through the geneology of a song.  It will take a while because I want you to watch some YouTube videos.  It should take about 20 minutes.  Come back later if you don't have the time now.

(Disclaimer: Please note that this is NOT a complete geneology and there are good arguments that another song is also woven into the the latest versions....but that's just being picky.  Also, please feel free to skip the Ads that start the later videos.)

The Carter Family, on 10 May 1928 recorded "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone" at Trinity Baptist Church, Camden, New Jersy.

Later, in 1937, Mainers Mountaineers renamed the song, "Miss Me When I'm Gone" and added some verses and changes of their own.

Flash ahead to 2009 and "You're Gonna Miss Me" is recorded by Lulu and the Lampshades.

The song finally finds its most popularized version - now simply called "Cups" -  by Anna Kendrick in the 2012 movie, Pitch Perfect.

Sooooo, after all that, I wanted you to hear my favourite 'take' on a song that's been around almost 100 years.  And, yes, it touched my soul.  Enjoy.

29 August 2013 - Reflection

29 August 2013

"I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations"
(Isaiah 42:6b).

"You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation" (1 Peter

Wow! That feels like a lot of responsibility to place on our shoulders.
The Isaiah reading even goes on to list our activities, such as setting
and captives free and giving sight to the blind.  Really?!  Some days I
find it hard to get out of bed in the morning and here Isaiah and Peter
are claiming that God has chosen me to change the world?

Part of the problem is in forgetting that the 'you' in both quotes is
plural.  It refers to 'all you' who walk in the ways of the Lord.  I am
not alone in this; you are not alone in this; we are all in this
together.  The second part of the problem is on forgetting that change
only ever happens one person at a time, starting with ourselves,
radiating out into our families and then into the circles of people we
encounter each day.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
                                - Margaret Mead

Eh...she might have something there.

Friday, August 30, 2013

28 August 2013 Reflection

28 August 2013

"May the Lord....defend you; send you help...and strengthen you" (Psalm 20:1).

"Seek the Lord while he may be found,
   call upon him while he is near" (Isaiah 55:6).

I tried to run 6 kms this morning.  Sadly, I've allowed by PT regime deteriorate to the point where, though I made it to the end, I was unable to maintain a jogging pace the whole time.

At another point in my life this would have crushed my morale and the internal self-condemnation would have followed me right through the day...and into the days to come.  Not any more.  I can say that a big part of the reason for this change is found in the uniform I wear.  As I struggled not to get too far behind I was blessed by the words and fellowship of another soldier who was also struggling.  In our conversation I felt encouragement and strength.  Then, near the end (and it couldn't come soon enough), another soldier ran back to also encourage us on - no one left behind.

I joked before the run about how it would be my 'morning prayers' as I (correctly) assumed  I would be uttering words from time to time best left for the sanctuary steps....

All joking aside, at my 'lowest' moments along the run, I was sent help and strength - God was there.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

27 August 2013 reflection

27 August 2013

"Nations shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
   and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
   neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:4b).

"By the tender mercy of our God,
   the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the way of peace." (Luke 1 78-79).

And there's the dichotomy in which I live as a Chaplain to Canadian Forces - a peace-loving warrior.

From the day I decided to pursue this career, right up to today, I constantly evaluate the virtue of war, the responsibilities of each nation to maintain a standing military (for self-defence at the least) and the prayers for peace I lift up every day.

How can I, a disciple of the Prince of Peace, support those whose 'profession of arms' calls them to use deadly force in the name of my country?

I never heard our role more eloquently described than I did this past spring at our Annual Chaplain's Retreat.  Padre John Fletcher, our incoming Chaplain General, referred to us as "the conscience behind the hand that holds the sword."  I can live with that....actually, that's a role I am proud to fulfill.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

26 August 2013 Reflection

26 August 2013

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10a).

"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid" (Isaiah 12:2).

Verses that speak of fear always grab my attention.  These two, from my daily devotions, speak directly to the heart of fear.  The only thing to be feared, i.e. "to stand in awe of," is the Lord...and this is a GOOD thing.  It helps to keep one grounded and humble and ready to 'receive' wisdom versus doling out.  The second quote is a remedy (albeit simplified) for fear.  Those who are able to allow themselves to be grounded in God (fearfully) and trust in God's love for them (salvation) will not be afraid.  Period.  Logically, if the greatest thing to be feared is ultimately "that which loves us unconditionally" then everything else is powerless.  But since my head seldom rules over my heart, my emotional understanding is that insomuch as my heart dwells in God (qua loving-kindness) I have little room left to give over to focus on fears, real or imagined.  At least that's the idea as I understand it.

In my ongoing studies today I found a quote from the writings of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i faith which seemed to be a variant on Psalm 111:10a.

"The beginning of all things is the knowledge of God, and the end of all things is strict observance of whatsoever hath been sent down from the empyrean of the Divine Will that prevadeth all that is the heavens and all that is on the earth."

Okay...I had to look up 'empyrean.'  It is an ancient term which refers to the realm of Divine Fire/Light that lays beyond this mortal world.  In the picture below we see a traveller peering into the Empyrean beyond the dome of the sky.  Once one has seen true light, there remains no darkness.