STJ#1002, Comfort Me

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.”

Blink.

Look over to Carl.

Sleeping soundly.

Radio isn’t on.

Phone hasn’t rung.

Blink.

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.

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