Day 43: "The Difference a Question Makes..."
I texted a friend after Sunday worship concluded. Today now seems a day to pause, breathe a bit with friends, notice the streams of energy capturing my attention with some intensity…
An entire Wave has whooshed into my awareness this week, opening the Untethered Gratitude arc of Princeton rememberings. More of that is coming…ibut not today. If I’ve learned anything about human being-becoming and Princeton, it’s best to take it in small doses, with a grain of salt. I remember telling a then-colleague over lunch, two decades ago, “The only way I know to survive Princeton is to never need Princeton.” I’ve sometimes wondered over the years how she’s managed, making her living, meeting her own material needs, by teaching at Princeton.
Today’s closing anthem was “Is He Worthy,” written by Ben Shive and Andrew Peterson, offered in worship by the incoming Director of Music at Fairmont. I felt my hackles go up when I saw the title in the order of worship. “Another contemporary, triumphalist praise song,” I thought to myself with a sense of dread. Solar Christianity, Barbara Brown Taylor calls it. Ideal for consumerist market-driven religions unable to hold ambiguity or the Holy in the dark every mystic knows. Unknows. Knows as uncontrollably intimate Godde IS. Triumphalistic faith expression cheapens the suffering of others, or at least my own suffering, so I avoid Christians with that vernacular. Even if they're family.
Except I had misread the title as a proclamation “He Is Worthy,” not its actual form in the interrogative, “Is He Worthy.” The difference a question makes… The anthem began. I closed my eyes to await its conclusion. I love hearing Coleman play this piano in particular, so something in me opened, despite myself. And then I heard question after question, rippling through the room… Questions so poignant and true to our world right now…with a call-and-response rhythm that allows even women in ecclesially-inflicted pain to hear both pain and hope…familiar grief and invitation...
Do you feel the world is broken? We do
Do you feel the shadows deepen? We do
But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through? We do
Do you wish you could see it all made new? We do
I was nearly undone by the second verse, let alone the refrain, then the third, then... I don’t let many people see me ‘messy cry,’ and I didn’t today either. But it was erupting in my belly, sobs seeking freedom of expression. The Holy I am blessed to know so well, for reasons named and unnamed, all around and within me….I found the YouTube link, listening again on my way home. I let the tears come.
The difference a question makes… The way it opens a call-and-response possibility for more and more of us…even those of us in deep grief or spiritual pain that lessens only sometimes...
This Holy finds me everywhere, when I let Her...
Even today in church.
Even yesteryears in Princeton.
Full lyrics of the song can be read here.