STJ#1009, Meditation on Breathing

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 …

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STJ#1006, In My Quiet Sorrow

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 …

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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, …

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STLT#396, I Know This Rose Will Open

Lovely Update Below! Things I don’t know: I don’t know composer and colleague Mary Grigolia, although I feel like I should. I don’t know when I learned this, but it was sometime between the Louisville General Assembly (summer 2013) and the Florida Chapter UUMA retreat (spring 2015). I don’t know why I never heard it or …

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STLT#391, Voice Still and Small

I’m sitting with colleagues at White Eagle Conference Center near Hamilton, NY, with 22 colleagues retreating together. What strikes me about moments like this is how apart from time yet completely in the stream of time we are at these things – in the midst of programming last night, I learned a young neighbor died. …

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STLT#388, Dona Nobis Pacem

I have sung this a thousand times since childhood, around the campfire, at vigils, even once at an evening memorial service. It’s as familiar as my own skin. Yet when I think of it, I don’t think of the vigil or the campfire or the memorial service. I think of M*A*S*H. In particular, the episode …

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STLT#353, Golden Breaks the Dawn

I wasn’t expecting to have a moment with this hymn. I don’t know what I was expecting – perhaps a morning of wading through information, or trying to ignore my personal exhaustion with nature metaphors (a product of this practice, to be sure – they don’t come barreling down in normal time), or a struggle …

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STLT#352, Find a Stillness

I love this prayer. Seriously, this meditative, prayerful hymn – lyrics by Carl Seaburg, set to a Transylvanian folk tune – is absolutely in my top ten list. I love the haunting, minor key of the tune as well as the phrasing. Some might say the third phrase is too high, but that’s what transposition …

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STLT#317, We Are Not Our Own

Before I dive into the hymn, a few words about Charlottesville, since my only pulpit today is this one: I am certain I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said more publicly and eloquently by colleagues, friends, and admired public figures. But I too must proclaim this as loudly as possible, because we …

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STLT#242, In the Lonely Midnight

It’s been all about the tune for me this morning. I know this lyric as a choral piece by composer and music director Michael Harrison – a beautiful setting of these lyrics that evoke the hope of the lyrics (the cascading voice thing that happens on “peace, good will” is gorgeous and the intricacies of …

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STLT#137, We Utter Our Cry

I’m not sure I have much to say on this one today, short of what I muttered as I finished singing, and as poured my coffee, and I walked up the stairs to the office, and as I opened up this page: “Hmmm. Well.. okay.” I hoped for more insight from Jacqui James – but all …

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