I’m trying – I really am. These songs, tho’…
We sing of golden mornings, we sing of sparkling seas,
of prairies, valleys, mountains, and stately forest trees.
We sing of flashing sunshine and life-bestowing rain,
of birds among the branches, and springtime come again.
We sing the heart courageous, the youthful, eager mind;
we sing of hopes undaunted, of friendly ways and kind.
We sing the roses waiting beneath the deep-piled snows;
we sing the earth’s great splendor, whose beauty ‘round us glows.
If I were in a different headspace, I’d be making some vaguely academic comments about Emerson and his journey with the immanent divine, which might include a dalliance into his exploration of Hindu texts.
And then I’d be commenting on the richness of the tunes from William Walker’s Southern Harmony and expressing gratitude for the preservation of these folk tunes.
But I am not in the right headspace today. My spiritual practice isn’t working to give me comfort or enliven thought. I suppose it’s true of any spiritual practice – sometimes you do it and it blows your mind, sometimes you do it and you check it off your To-Do list. Today is definitely the latter.
What has been helping are conversations with friends and colleagues – and a bit of immersion into the arts. My friend Micah Bucey, the fierce minister of the arts at Judson Memorial in NYC, reminded me that I need to both make art and take in art. Dr. Hal Taussig, one of my professors at Union Theological Seminary, says art helps us “enter the difficult sideways” so that we can approach the hard and sad and terrifying safely.
Which I suppose these hymns are, too.
Maybe I’ve been doing as Micah and Hal have advised all along…