an ode to Selma and Nina Simone

I listened to this song by Nina Simone yesterday: I wish knew how it would feel to be free.

My profoundly beautiful friend told me that this was getting her through a hard day or two in the office. I had heard it before, but as I listened to it alone a little later on I heard it as if for the first time, tears filling my eyes as the weight of the words washed over me through the melody’s indomitable rise and fall.

I imagined it must have been a spiritual, written during times of slavery. Some quick googling showed that it was actually written in the 60s, but that it indeed served as an anthem for the civil-rights movement. As I listened over and over (as I am prone to do when I latch onto a good thing..) I found it surprising just how much it moved me, how profoundly, well, spiritual, it was, how close it made me feel to the God I know and love in my core. Or not surprising at all, I guess. Songs, ‘dangerous songs’ as Walter Brueggemann calls them, borne from the furnace of the deepest suffering; songs that speak of a wild hope despite all that works to suppress it – no surprise at all, I guess, that flowers that blossom by the grace of God and the strength of the human-meets –Divine Spirit in the land marked by suffering are the most astoundingly beautiful.

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free.

I wish you could know what it means to be me; then you’d see and agree that every man should be free.

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when small is enough

My one word for this year is ‘wonder’. I would estimate I’ve spent a good 2% of the year so far in a state of wonder. But my attention was called back to the word, to my commitment this week as I heard a quote by poet Mary Oliver: ‘I want to know that I spent my life married to the bridegroom of amazement’. How on earth?! I thought as I worked long hours, increasingly grumpy and coming down with a virus. I prayed a simple prayer, though: God, help me. I don’t want to miss it. But I can’t see it and I don’t want to try. But I want to want to.

And today was a little miracle. To preface – not a flashy, write home about miracle. But I believe in the mustard seed, in the small being enough, the glimpses of glory being some of the most precious reminders of heaven-right-now. Continue reading