Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Strathdees at Calling Lakes Centre

I wasn't going to go. In fact I didn't even let myself read the program description, just skimmed over it and told myself I'd had my quota of music-related travel for the year, or at least for the season. Then my friend Anita called and asked if I was going, since she was wondering if my kids would be keeping hers company there. I said no, and then added as an afterthought, ". . . unless you have a job for me . . ." She said she'd keep it in mind.

I promptly forgot about it. With music festival and a wedding looming, and the Good Friday Cantata towering behind all that, I was not looking for any more things musical. When Anita called and said she'd finally thought of the job for me, it took me a moment to remember what she was talking about. "Sing with the Strathdees" took place last weekend at Calling Lakes Centre, and just a few days ahead of the program, Anita asked me if I would bring my sound system. I said I would make a few calls. I was supposed to be leading worship here on Sunday, but Garth graciously agreed to switch Sundays with me, and that was that.

My "job" was to show up with my sound system, and in exchange I got a weekend of singing, harmonizing, drumming (a new thrill), discovering a wealth of worship songs that don't turn me cold with literalist doctrine (see their website), playing along on my guitar, and of course enjoying the Centre's ever-delightful surroundings and food. I even got to open for the Strathdees (on the spot, really just filling time due to some confusion about the start time for their evening concert). I sang the "truck song" (Anita's request) and Breath Anew.

Breath Anew
Copyright © 2002 by Laura Herman

Startled eyes
filling up with hurt.
I can't take back the breath I poured into those words,
and it left an aching hollow
around my pounding heart.
Yet somehow in the emptiness
I feel
another start...

No matter how I spent my last breath,
God gives me breath anew.
"Child, remember that it's mine,
but use it as you will;
I believe in you."

In the night,
no-one else awake.
No-one to tell me not to worry, that's okay.
So I try to promise better,
ask for guidance in a prayer...
but I sob out my unworthiness,
and God is waiting there...

No matter how I spent my last breath,
God gives me breath anew.
"Child, remember that it's mine,
but use it as you will;
I believe in you."

Breath anew
for the next step of my journey;
breath anew,
no matter where I go.
Too gentle to be heard;
the essence of all words;
when I'm empty, I can't resist the flow...

No matter how I spent my last breath,
God gives me breath anew.
"Child, remember that it's mine,
but use it as you will;
I believe in you.

Take this breath

When she introduced me, Anita mentioned that one of my songs is being published in More Voices, the forthcoming supplement to the United Church hymnal Voices United. She is perhaps a little extra excited about that, since I named the melody of the song "Anita" in honour of her. I don't think she realized what an influence she has been, encouraging me to keep playing and writing my songs. This weekend, I discovered one of Anita's influences. I didn't even know she knew the Strathdees, but it turns out that they were music leaders in the church where she was growing up in California. She used to look after their kids and run the slide-projector for the lyrics when they led singing. By the end of this weekend, I felt like I had met the great-godparents of my song. (If you want to watch for it in More Voices, it's titled "Take Up His Song," and was written as a response to Voices United #359 "He Came Singing Love" by Colin Gibson.)

It was a wonderful weekend. Still, there were fleeting moments when I wondered whether I could justify the travel, and frequent moments when I felt out of step with almost all the world. Even among a group of generous, idealistic people, there were jangles of disharmony when the talk turned to protest marches, or when we sang "I would bring gold for buying bread" and I found myself mentally rewriting the lyric to say "wheat for baking bread."

And in all the commotion of another weekend away, I still haven't got my onions and peppers started.

Shall I quit blogging until I have something productive to report?

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