Last night, in a text conversation with Michael Tino, we got to talking about our frustrations with some of the arrangements in Singing the Journey, in part because some of the songs come out of popular music and many members have memories of the originals (or of well-known covers). And thus, when we get to the arrangements here, and they don’t go places we expect them to, congregants and songleaders alike stumble and get a little confused. It’s like the day I heard “Stairway to Heaven” on Musak… it was familiar, but weirdly arranged and wildly confusing.

In this conversation last night, I said “wait until we get to ‘Lean on Me'”…. and then saw it was coming up today. No need to wait! Here we go… diving headlong into an earnest but terribly confusing arrangement of the Bill Withers classic.

First, let’s get one thing straight here: it’s an amazing song, perfect for our time and all time. We need this message, this reminder – not only that others are there, but that we can be there for others. I love the commitment that this song asks us to make, and the space it makes for us to lean into that commitment, that covenant, that we can lean on each other, we can call on each other to be present for us.

Now before we get too far, let’s listen to Bill Withers (or we’re just gonna be all kinds of distracted by the ear worm):

After the lyrics, I’ll share part of an interview with Withers talking about this song, but first, I need to talk about our arrangement.

Bless his heart, David Moran tried to make this fit a typical hymn form – verses and chorus. Somehow the bridge got tacked on, but the dénouement – “call me” – is omitted. And while the accompaniment is well written, the arrangement of this song that’s emblazoned upon our minds is in conflict with the music on the page. And then we wonder why it doesn’t work to sing it in our congregations.

And the truth is this – except for the “call me” – all the pieces are here, and many accompanists can rearrange the parts on the pages a bit to make it match the songwriter’s intent and our memories. I’ve put the lyrics in as Withers has it in his original recording, but the lyrics (minus “call me”) are as printed in STJ.

Sometimes in our lives
we all have pain,
we all have sorrow.
But if we are wise
we know that there’s
always tomorrow.

Lean on me when you’re not strong
and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on,
For it won’t be long ‘til I’m gonna need
somebody to lean on.

Please swallow your pride
if I have things
you need to borrow,
For no one can fill
those of your needs
that you won’t let show.

Just call on me brother when you need a hand.
We all need somebody to lean on.
I just might have a problem that you’d understand.
We all need somebody to lean on.



If there is a load
you have to bear
that you can’t carry,
I’m right up the road,
I’ll share your load
if you just call me.

Call me… call me…

In researching for today’s post, I ran across an amazing interview with Bill Withers at SongFacts, conducted in 2004. He says this about the song:

A lot of time you go back and fill in the blanks. This was my second album, so I could afford to buy myself a little Wurlitzer electric piano. So I bought a little piano and I was sitting there just running my fingers up and down the piano. That’s often the first song that children learn to play because they don’t have to change fingers – you just put your fingers in one position and go up and down the keyboard. In the course of doing the music, that phrase crossed my mind, so then you go back and say, “OK, I like the way this phrase, Lean On Me, sounds with this song.” So you go back and say, “How do I arrive at this as a conclusion to a statement? What would I say that would cause me to say Lean On Me?” Then at that point, it’s between you and your actual feelings, you and your morals and what you’re really like. You probably do more thinking about it after it’s done.

Being from a rural, West Virginia setting, that kind of circumstance would be more accessible to me than it would be to a guy living in New York where people step over you if you’re passed out on the sidewalk, or Los Angeles, where you could die on the side of the freeway and it would probably be 8 days before anyone noticed you were dead. Coming from a place where people were a little more attentive to each other, less afraid, that would cue me to have those considerations than somebody from a different place. I think what we say is influenced by how we are, what’s been our life experiences. Now, I notice young guys writing about shooting each other in the city and stuff like that, well that was not my experience, so I would never have said anything like that because it was not my experience. I’m not from a big city. I think circumstance dictates what people think.

I’m from an environment where it was practical to do that. That’s probably why somebody from New York did not write that song, or somebody from London, or somebody from a large city. It’s a rural song that translates probably across demographical lines. Who could argue with the fact that it would be nice to have somebody who really was that way? My experience was, there were people who were that way.

They would help you out. Even in the rural South. There were people who would help you out even across racial lines. Somebody who would probably stand in a mob that might lynch you if you pissed them off, would help you out in another way.

So, just like the whole American experience, it’s very complex and it has it’s own little rules and stuff. I thought it was funny when everybody got worked up over Strom Thurmond having this daughter, and I thought, “What else is new?” It depends on your socialization. My socialization was, it was very likely and very practical to expect a “Lean On Me” circumstance to exist. My adjustment was not adjusting to that circumstance probably being real and probable, my experience was trying to adjust to a world where that circumstance was not the rule rather than the exception.

It was powerful to read, knowing we’re not there anymore. And knowing that this song makes space for that kind of world to exist again.

May it be so.

This might be, as the hymnal suggests, a spiritual from the time of American slavery. This might also be, as some online sources suggest, a traditional blues tune.

I hate when the search for information in inconclusive.

Because I don’t know whether to talk about the use of 19th century spirituals in our predominantly white congregations, or if we talk about the rich blend of traditions that occurred in the American south, as sounds from Africa, Europe, and the Americas all found themselves woven together into new music.

This is, however, an easy song to learn and lead, and I can see why it’s popular. Although if my searches are evidence of anything, it’s that a song like this can’t be tied down to one particular arrangement or melody – so I caution against the rigidity that other hymns may demand.

Come and go with me to that land,
Come and go with me to that land,
Come and go with me to that land
where I’m bound.  (2x)

There’ll be freedom in that land…

There’ll be justice in that land…

There’ll be singin’ in that land…

The truth is, I prefer how the song sounds in other versions, with variations on the melody we know, and with different patterns of call and response. I’ll leave you with this first known recording of the song, from Blind Willie Johnson with backing vocals by Willie B. Harris:

For all the awfulness of Reddit (a  social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website that recently had to crack down on alt-right and Nazi content/users), there is also some wonderfulness – from the AMA (Ask Me Anything) posts with famous and not so famous people, to the joy of helping others find songs, films, and shows in Tip of My Tongue, to the highly rigorous academics of Ask An Historian, and of course Aww, where folks show photos of adorable pets (adorableness being in the eye of the beholder). There is even a group (subreddit) for us, called UUReddit, where we get a fair number of seekers.

Among the wonderfulness is Today I Learned (TIL); as folks go through their days, the share a fact they learned from an old article or interview. Sometimes we already knew that, sometimes we didn’t, but for me, the joy is in seeing someone sparked by new information. The posts always start the same: “Today I learned that….”


Today I learned that there’s a Weavers tribute band called Work o’ the Weavers. They’re based in the Hudson Valley, and essentially they have picked up (with accolades from original Weavers Pete Seeger and Ronnie Gilbert) where this important folk quartet left off, singing both songs from the Weavers’ albums and their own compositions.

Out of this new repertoire comes today’s hymn, written by Work o’ the Weavers member Martha Sandefer. And once you know it’s in the style of the Weavers, it makes perfect sense to be a bit bluesy, a bit folky, a bit repetitive, a lot justice-oriented.

We are building a new way.
We are building a new way.
We are building a new way,
feeling stronger ev’ry day,
We are building a new way.

We are working to be free.
We are working to be free.
We are working to be free,
hate and greed and jealousy.
We are working to be free.

We can feed our every need.
We can feed our ev’ry need.
We can feed our ev’ry need,
Start with love, that is the seed.
We can feed our every need.

Peace and freedom is our cry.
Peace and freedom is our cry.
Peace and freedom is our cry,
Without these this world will die.
Peace and freedom is our cry.

I don’t love the second verse – it feels like it’s missing some words – and maybe in the original it’s worded better. But it’s definitely of a time, and now that I have learned, I see that it’s purposely so.

It’s a popular piece in our congregations, but I’m not sure I like it, although I have a greater appreciation for it now. I’m not quite sure how “building a new way” sits on the ears of those whose land greedy Europeans have taken, either, as it sounds to me a bit like John Winthrop’s “shining city on a hill.” But I know people like it and use it. I’m not sure I ever have or ever will.

Photo is of people ACTUALLY working on building a new way, not just singing about it: Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis (Kairos Center  and fellow Union alum), Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray (UUA president), Rev. Traci Blackmon (UCC national officer), and Rev. Dr. William Barber II, launching the revival of the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, DC, yesterday, on the 50th anniversary of the original campaign.

Back in the 1980s, there was a series of commercials produced by the group Partnership for a Drug-Free America that became memes before memes were a thing; perhaps most famous is the “this is your brain on drugs” one, featuring an egg in a hot frying pan. But in second place is the one featuring a man confronting his son about drugs. “Who taught you how to do this stuff?!” he shouts incredulously. “You! I learned it by watching you” is the shocking reply.

That commercial came to mind when I sang this song, because it too is about how the ways we behave as adults affect our children. Shelly Denham’s wonderful song reminds us to take our role seriously – whether we’re parenting or just part of the community that holds our children in care.

When I am frightened, will you reassure me?
When I’m uncertain, will you hold my hand?
Will you be strong for me, sing to me quietly?
Will you share some of your stories with me?
If you will show me compassion,
then I may learn to care as you do,
then I may learn to care.

When I am angry, will you still embrace me?
When I am thoughtless, will you understand?
Will you believe in me, stand by me willingly?
Will you share some of your questions with me?
If you will show me acceptance,
then I may learn to give as you do,
then I may learn to give.

When I am troubled, will you listen to me?
When I am lonely, will you be my friend?
Will you be there for me, comfort me tenderly?
Will you share some of your feelings with me?
If you will show me commitment,
then I may learn to love as you do,
then I may learn to love.

On the UUA Song Information page, we learn the origins of this song:

This song, also titled Then I May Learn, was commissioned in 1999 by the First Unitarian Church of Dallas for their Hymnal Supplement (Voices of the Spirit) which was published for their Centennial Celebration. Because of her life-long commitment to working with and empowering youth, Shelley took the opportunity to write a piece based on children’s yearning for truth, respect, and engagement with adults. In keeping with a philosophy that “children are watching, what are they learning?”, Then I May Learn is meant as a reminder that all children deserve and need compassion, acceptance, commitment…and that they often learn to both give and receive these essential elements of relationship through the simple act of observation.

In my short time in the parish, I didn’t dedicate any children, but you can bet I would have used this song as part of that ritual. And maybe we need to be reminded of this outside of those moments as well.

What we do matters. How we show love matters. And it matters not only to our children but to each other and this hurting world. It matters, as we continue to be traumatized by this administration. It matters, as we find the courage to resist, to fight, to say “me too.” We need each other to be present for each other as we fight the good fight. It matters.

The image is a still from the above-mentioned commercial.


There’s a wonderful podcast called Song Exploder, where host Hrishikesh Hirway invites songwriters to talk about the origins and construction of their songs; they ‘explode’ the song apart to share insights about the ideas for the song, and about the various parts as it goes from hummed melody and chords on a piano to fully arranged and produced.

Much like that process, there is a process here at Hymn by Hymn too; I am gonna explode my own process for a few minutes – break it apart and explain how I get from spiritual practice to post. (I should note that it didn’t start this way, but curiosity led to this process after a few short weeks).

It starts with coffee. Or at least the making of… I get the coffeemaker set up, press on, and then sit down nearby with my hymnal. Flip, flip, flip to the right page, and I start to sing. If I’m lucky, I know the hymn, or at least the tune (I’m getting a lot better at recognizing tunes by their name because of this). If I don’t, I do a search through various hymn tune sites…maybe YouTube… and as a last resort, open the keyboard app on my phone to plunk out the melody. And I sing.

I really do sing the song, folks. Sometimes it’s quietly, sometimes it’s begrudgingly, sometimes it’s joyfully, sometimes it’s robustly … but I always sing it. I do that because I know that singing shifts our bodies energetically – it gets something moving in our bodies and our souls. And singing lyrics wakes up the mind, too.

Out of the singing comes some experiences, some questions, some affirmations. It might be a lyric that stops me, or a melodic phrase that captures me, or questions arising about its origins. I think about those questions, as well as my opening line, while I prepare the first sacred cup of the holy brew.

Then I sit down to the computer.

Sometimes I know just where I’m going and I begin writing. Other times, my curiosity leads me to a bit of research, which helps me frame my post for the day. I will often have half a dozen tabs open as I look at the hymn’s usage, origin stories, the composer’s bio, alternate lyrics. Sometimes there’s a poetry page or two, and often some YouTube examples of the song. Sometimes (like yesterday) there’s an email or text conversation with the composer or a member of the hymnal commission to offer further insights.

By the time I’ve done a bit of work, I have a pretty good sense of how to proceed – how to explore my own experience of singing, my own thoughts about the musicology, poetry, theology, spirituality, and liturgy reflected in my experience. I write, then find an image (often from Pixabay but sometimes from other sources), tag it, and publish it. By that point I’ve finished my first cup of coffee and can get on with my day. And a second cup of coffee.

Now I tell you all this because the experience I had singing this round today does not match the subsequent research I did before I sat down, and I stared at this screen for several minutes trying to find a way to explain what happened from first sung notes to first words on the post. And I probably wrote that whole piece above as a way to avoid the inevitable.

As we have Shlomo Carlebach’s round here, it’s a gorgeous invitation to return to ourselves, to remove the masks, to get back to what we know is true about ourselves. Return to the home of your soul… gorgeous. As I sang it I felt a bit of release, comforted by this reminder.

Return again, Return again,
Return to the home of your soul.

Return to who you are,
Return to what you are,
Return to where you are
born and reborn again.

But of course it also made me wonder about Carlebach, and if there are recordings of the piece for those who are unfamiliar. So I googled, and I discovered in listening to him perform the song that the lyric has been changed; the original is “return to the land of your soul.”

Of course that makes sense; Carlebach (known as “The Singing Rabbi”) was writing and performing songs specifically for a Jewish audience, writing songs that speak about the Divine in ways that “make other rabbis uncomfortable.” And given that, “Land” makes sense, with its significance to the Jewish people and their millennia’s-long desire to be home in Israel. The idea that the returning again is to a physical place – the land of your soul – is as important as and is maybe equal to/more resonant than returning to a sense of self.

Now I can see how the original lyrics might offer some resonance with people whose lands were stolen by greedy Europeans, or with people who were taken from their lands by greedy Europeans – I can’t speak for them but I suspect a Latinx or an African American might find some connection to the original lyric. However, as a descendant of greedy Europeans, I have no right and no standing to sing Carlebach’s original “land of your soul” – it seems like an affront.

Now I wouldn’t have had any of these thoughts if I’d not followed my process. And maybe I’d have been happy to continue using this song to focus on personal spiritual growth.

But now – even with the changed lyric that makes it less obviously about physical place – I struggle. I know the hymnal commission contacted Carlebach’s estate to get approval for the lyric change, but it still feels like, well, like we whitewashed the song.

And I don’t know what to do with that. Until this morning, and through the original singing, I loved this piece and have used it.

Now, I’m not so sure.

It’s still beautiful and lush, and I’m glad it’s here. But I’m just not sure about it anymore.

Among the many things I have learned in this practice is that while on one level, hymns are communal, they are in fact highly personal; a song one might love is the very one that another hates with the fire of a thousand suns. Some of my favorites have been met with derision, and some of the hymns on my nope list have been defended so strongly that I have felt like a pariah.

But then there are some pieces that are not only widely beloved but also become useful tools for pastoral care, community building, and spiritual practice – like today’s amazing piece by Sarah Dan Jones.

I asked Sarah Dan if we could chat (and maybe produce a Hymn by Hymn Extra) but her schedule wouldn’t allow for it; she did, however, share some of the background:

I wrote the song just after September 11th. (You can hear the full song here). I was so filled with despair, and I needed to channel that into some hope.  When the call came for Singing the Journey, I decided to submit the chorus as a chant.  Susan Peck helped me set it (she actually wrote the descant line).

The song has since taken on a life of its own.  It was sung at a student vigil after the Virginia Tech shootings (I know that because of an article in the Washington Post that someone brought to my attention.  The text was listed, but no attribution).. It has been sung at rallies all over the place – Phoenix GA (and before, when folks were arrested protesting Arpaio). I have given permission for its use at camps, congregations who put together their own “hymnal”, and youth groups. I have had requests from all over North America, and Europe.  I have no idea how and where it is being sung, so I have to let that go.

When folks talk to me about it (like when I sing it when visiting out), they range from parents using it to sing their kids to sleep, adults using it in meditation, hospice choirs.  Once, a man told me about how he and his husband had purchased two pigmy goats – they were in the back seat being driven to their new home and making all kinds of noises.  The men starting singing the chant and the goats calmed down (I often tell that story and note how the chant it multi-species!!).

Yes. Sometimes a song is just timeless. And while the verses of the full song are in some ways specific for its origins (although some days, it seems perfect for the moment), the chorus, which we sing, is timeless.

When I breathe in,
I’ll breathe in peace.
When I breathe out,
I’ll breathe out love.

Breathe in, Breathe out,
Breathe in, Breathe out

I will say this one thing: the rhythm of the drone (Breathe in, breathe out) is not square, and congregations are wont to square it up, which throws the other two parts off and before you know it, the whole song’s gone pear-shaped. It is really important to have strong voices hold that syncopation down and fight against the squaring off… because when it’s done right, it’s simply amazing.

What a gift this piece is – to our movement and beyond.


This song speaks the truth in my heart.

This song allows me to cry.

This song is a balm to my soul.

Composer Jeannie Gagné wrote it to give voice to “those things which are not expressed, kept within the silence of our hearts” (as noted here) – that moment after spoken joys and sorrows, to honor the unspoken. And more than once, I have needed the quiet strength this song provides; its tender melody matching its tender lyrics.

I am worn, I am tired,
in my quiet sorrow.
Hopelessness will not let me be.
Help me.

I won’t speak of this ache
inside, light eludes me.
In the silence of my heart,
I’m praying.

I keep on, day by day,
trusting light will guide me.
Will you be with me through this time,
holding me?

You’re my hope when I fear
holding on, believing.
Deep inside I pray I’m strong.
Blessed be.

I could – and did – spend a long time with this hymn this morning. But much like the music, the moment demands not so much my words as my silent witness.

Amen. Blessed be.

There’s a terrible film from 1999 called The 13th Warrior featuring Antonio Banderas playing a 10th century Arab ambassador to northern Europe; he somehow finds himself included in a group of Vikings setting out to deal with a threat in a distant Viking land.  At the start of this quest, Banderas understands no Norse and can only watch events unfold. But as time goes on, he occasionally picks up a word here or there. The filmmaker’s one good idea in an otherwise awful movie was having the occasional English word pop up in the dialogue of the Vikings…then a few more, then finally the entire group is speaking English, showing that Banderas’ character understands the language now.

It’s a remarkable idea, the assimilation of language, and it was beautifully revealed despite the otherwise violent and plot-hole-filled nature of the movie. And I resonate with it, because while I studied Latin in college, anything I know of other languages I assimilated through Sesame Street, food, and music. I mention this, because while I don’t speak Spanish, I can read just enough of it – and the Latin, of course – to have a general sense of the song’s meaning. But more, I find it falls on the ear more beautifully and feels rich and authentic without even the most elegant of English translations.

Now I say all this because I am a bit embarrassed that I don’t know a second language and I should. But I also say this because I think we need to be more open to singing songs like this in English speaking congregations, with the Spanish lyrics, because given repetition, practice, and a helping hand, the lyrics will begin to make sense and the language will being to seep in, bit by bit. And maybe we can get outside ourselves a bit, too.

It helps to have a great song like this – great to me, anyway. Singer-songwriter (and poet, painter, and ecologist) Salvador Cardenal Barquero (who died at age 50 about seven years ago) wrote beautiful and rich melodies, making him an extremely popular figure in Nicaragua and Central America.

Revisa tu corazón
Para hallar el amor en un rincón.
Pero busca el amor.
Ni placer ni passion.
El amor lo que hace al otro bien

Busca el amor en ti.
Se multiplica si lo repartís.
Busca el amor en ti.
Sólo él que ama puede ser feliz.
Busca el amor en ti.
Se multiplica si lo repartís.
Busca el amor en ti.
Sólo él que ama puede ser feliz.
Busca el amor en ti, en ti.

Registra tu camaleón.
Cuando cambia el color del corazón
Y te estalla la flor.
Un pétalo del sol.
El amor lo que hace al otro bien


English translation:

Examine that heart of yours,
As you look for the love on your high shelf,
Past the pleasure and passion
for your own self,
for the love that’s reaching someone else.

Seek out the love in you,
And find the joy that comes to those who care.
Seek out the love in you.
It only grows whenever it is shared.
Seek out the love in you,
And find the joy that comes to those who care.
Seek out the love in you.
It only grows whenever it is shared.
Seek out the love in you, in you.

Your heart’s a chameleon,
Ever open to change like any flower.
Spreading out for the sun,
petals bursting with power.
To be love that’s reaching someone else.


I love the sentiment, too. As our UUA Song Information page says,

This song sums up the composer’s simple personal theology. Salvador Cardenal Barquero is a fifth generation Nicaraguan. He studied to be a Catholic priest as a teenager. He, as many of his generation, answered the call for regime change by forming Duo Guardabarranco with his sister Katia. His original songs explore the need for love. He is a devotee of evolving spiritual thought. He has set music to words of St Francis of Assisi, Rabindranath Tagore, and the Sanscrit Vedas (Srimad Bhaghavatam). His plaintive song Cualquier Hombre (Anyone) has poor people calling to God in all different names and “not asking for leftovers.”

Yes. Yes.

We need love, because it’s the only thing that works.

Throughout this practice, I’ve happened upon many hymns that were inspired by (or were outright settings of) poetry; that makes sense, as lyric forms seek out one another naturally. But this is the first time I’ve encountered one inspired by paintings.

As noted on the UUA’s Song Information page,

The lyrics of this song come from the French title of a famous oil painting by Paul Gauguin created in Tahiti in 1897 and 1898. It is currently housed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA. The three groups of women, read from the right to left, represent the three questions posed in the title of the painting. The women with the child represent the beginning of life “Where Do We Come From?” The middle group, represent the daily existence of adulthood “What Are We?” The old woman facing death is asking, “Where Are We Going?”


It’s an amazing painting; the photo I’ve used here doesn’t do it justice, I’m sure. (When am I in Boston next? I have some art to look at…) It is haunting and asks for a meditative encounter, not a quick glance and go. It’s deceptively intricate in its simplicity, and it sticks with you.

Much like this song, which can be sung as a canon, a round, a chant, with about as many permutations as you can imagine. It embodies the questions and mood of the painting in haunting and meditative countermelodies.

 Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

Where do we come from?

Mystery. Mystery. Life is a riddle and a mystery.

Where do we come from? Where are we going?

And these are questions I’m asking myself a lot lately. As I facilitate a couple of UU Wellspring groups, I have the opportunity to both be present to myself and look back at the pre-seminary me who took this for the first time. The questions I had then aren’t the questions I have now, but I still seek answers as I look to where I have come from. And then more generally, where do we come from and what does it mean to dwell in such a time as this, wondering where we are going and how to be present in those riddles.

This is a small song, taking up only half a page.

But it is actually one of our biggest.

Sometimes you have stories you just tell. Othertimes, you have stories that definitely have titles. I call this one “Snoring for God.”

Our scene unfolds as my then boyfriend, Carl, and I are driving in New England. We’d started in White Plains (where Carl’s flight landed), drove over to Connecticut and hopped on Route 7, stayed overnight in Bennington, headed eventually to Rutland, then finally back into New York and home. Carl had had a busy few weeks, and  while I navigated the rolling turns of the road, Carl viewed the beauty of the Green Mountains through his eyelids. In the quiet, I began humming some of my favorite spirituals: “Over My Head, I Hear Music in the Air” … “There Is More Love Somewhere.” Eventually I landed on this piece, by Mimi Bornstein:


Comfort me, comfort me,
comfort me, oh my soul.
Comfort me, comfort me,
comfort me, oh my soul.

Sing with me, sing with me…

Speak for me, speak for me…

Dance with me, dance with me…

Now I got through the first two verses easily, but instead of singing Bornstein’s lyric “speak for me,” I began to sing “speak TO me”….

And God said, “I have been. I never stopped. You are the one who stopped.”


Look over to Carl.

Sleeping soundly.

Radio isn’t on.

Phone hasn’t rung.


And so I asked, “I haven’t heard you. How have you been speaking to me?”

God’s answer came immediately as the napping Carl let out a loud, forceful snore.

Which made me realize – though tears and light so strong that I had to pull over – that God always speaks, through the divinity in each of us. Through long conversations with trusted friends and colleagues… through poetry and music that makes us weep from their beauty… through books and ideas and sermons and films and television…  through the little moments of grace we witness and are blessed with. All of them, messages from the Mystery, all of them hoping that in the spirit of Kierkegaard, we would recognize them in retrospect.

For me, this was a key moment in my call narrative – because it was opening myself up to direct experiences of transcending awe and wonder that would result in some sense of communication (prayer?) that helped me deepen my faith and my sense of vocation. It allowed me to hear other messages that pointed me to ministry.

This song, y’all.

And it’s a beauty. Easy to sing, lush and gorgeous in its construction, soulful and meaningful. And I’m not just saying that because God speaks through it to me; I’ve found this to be a useful, helpful, healing song in many circumstances.

But I also can’t sing it without a part of me quietly chuckling.