On Poetry: Light the World

Light the World by Ingrid Stölzel is a piece commissioned in honor of Te Deum‘s 10th season. The world premier was November 11, 2017 and, in case you missed it, here is a recording.

The text is by Robert Bode, and I have been finding it truly fascinating in its complexity.

May the Mother in us comfort us
And the Father in us protect us;
May the Daughter in us bring us Hope
And the Son within us bring us Joy.

May the Dancer in us move us
And the Poet inspire our Song.
May the Explorer embolden us
And the Artist honor the Beauty that holds us.

May we all be Creators and Priests and Nurses and Heroes,
And may our Song lift beyond these walls
To light the world.

On the face of it, this poem is about honoring the various parts of who we are and letting those parts inspire us to greatness (or change, or wholeness). But then this:

May we all be Creators and Priests and Nurses and Heroes,
And my our Song lift beyond these walls
To light the world.

The final couplet puts creative and healing roles into the same breath, which is a wonderful reminder that heroes are around us every day. That heroes are not always caped and masked and covered in spandex. It then reminds us that however we affect the world with our Song, however we help to create and heal in this world, we should hope that it radiates out into the world like light.

I remind myself daily that I should always strive to “shed light, not heat”. Knowledge (and joy and love and inspiration) only increases the more we share it with others. I know that it’s not my role in life to hold selfishly to my light and let others simply feel the heat of it. It is my role to share it and in doing so increase what I have through others.

If you haven’t listened to the piece yet, you should. If you already listened to it once, maybe listen to it again!

On Poetry: i thank you God for most this amazing

When I’m not busy making the world a better place through technology, I sometimes have disjointed thoughts about poetry. Its construction, its meaning, and the general overlay. Here’s a little e.e. cummings to round out your week.

i thank you God for most this amazing

If you’re not familiar with this poem, I’ll suggest a few things first:

  1. Visit the link above and read it.
  2. Listen to this recording of e.e. cummings himself reading it.
  3. Keep the poem open in a new tab so it’s easy to get to.

For starters, I think from the colon through the second stanza is one massive parenthetical phrase about the indescribable amazement that is the world we’re in.

And that the first line relates directly to the third stanza (though would be hollow without the second). Still, though, that third stanza also has all those parentheticals in it.

So its skeleton is “how should any human being doubt You”.

how should [tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing] any [—lifted from the no
of all nothing—] human (merely) being
doubt [unimaginable] You?

And that final couplet is how, when you consider the amazingness of the planet, your eyes and ears can’t help but be opened to the reality of God.

Thus ends an abridged look at the really dense reading that is an e.e. cummings poem.

A Place in the Sun, aka SPF, WTF?

I have a lot of respect for people who can take a complex subject and explain it in a way that is easy to grasp. This talk from Stephanie Shonekan, ethnomusicologist and Director of Black Studies at the University of Missouri, is spectacular. Not only does it crystalize some hard to grasp concepts, it also provides an angle on the discussion of racial equality & the value of human life that makes it accessible to people who may be approaching the issue for the first time.

 

It is short, but it is powerful. Pour yourself some coffee and get ready for an enlightening mid-morning break.

St John Passion BWV 245

This afternoon I have the good fortune of joining some incredibly talented musicians to sing Bach’s Johannespassion. We’re singing it in English instead of the original German, which brings a different sort of drama to the whole thing, and has been an interesting expressive journey.

If you care to watch via the livestream, I highly recommend it.

If amazing singing isn’t your thing (the choir will be joined by Kyle Stegall and Charles Wesley Evans… so if singing isn’t your thing now it might be afterward), then you might join for the historically informed orchestra and their instruments. For our instrumental enthusiasts out there, I’ll tell you that we have a viol de gamba and an oboe de caccia joining us which is as delightful as you might imagine.

If none of this caught your eye, then I still encourage you to watch the concert if for no other reason than because I would love your support. ☺️

The Courage of Failing Publicly

When I was in high school, I once refused to do something that my friends were doing because I knew I wouldn’t like the outcome. When pressed about how I knew and asked “Have you ever tried?” my response was this:

I don’t have time to learn from only my own mistakes.

I’ve never been particularly fond of the notion that in order to know what will and won’t happen one has to personally do all the dirty work of learning.

Knowing this about me, it’s less surprising to hear that I’ve spent a lot of time lately encouraging those around me to “fail publicly”. It’s not an easy call to make, of course. No one likes being wrong, let alone being wrong where everyone can see you. The idea behind it is this: if something doesn’t go as planned, and others can see it, then they can help find a stronger solution.

But there are two chances for discomfort here that I rarely, if ever, acknowledge. Boldly doing something in front of people while knowing that it could go badly is a clear risk. It doesn’t matter what that something is, public imperfection is terrifying. The other discomfort comes after that, though.

Failing publicly has no benefit to us, although it still might to others, if we are not able to learn from it. Growth is never something that comes easy and, if we aren’t open to the idea that something needs to be fixed, personal growth can be stopped in its tracks entirely.

I work on projects that, when done well, are intensely public and open. I have made so many mistakes during my time working on them and witnessed even more than I have made. I didn’t start out with the willingness to share my failings and I think that other people could have learned from me… even if I couldn’t have learned from myself at the time.

So… Note to Self – Do what you can with what you’ve got and let people see where you don’t have what it takes. Someone else might have exactly what is needed to get the job done.

Baby It’s Cold Outside, an Update

I really do love this particular holiday song. However, as I got older and started actually paying attention to lyrics, the creep-factor really couldn’t be ignored anymore.

Enter this charming adaptation from Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski. Listen without the guilt and, if you’re feeling the holiday spirit, consider purchasing the track to benefit the Sexual Violence Center and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.