Hymn by Hymn

STJ#1023, Building Bridges

There is a moment in the film The Princes Bride, where Westley, who has been mostly dead all day, is trying to figure out how he and his companions Fezzick and Inigo can storm the castle to rescue Westley’s true love, Buttercup. However, having been mostly dead, and having only just taken the miracle pill to revive him, Westley doesn’t quite have control of his body yet. However, the always helpful Fezzick takes note of his progress:

Fezzik: You just shook your head… doesn’t that make you happy?
Westley: My brains, his steel, and your strength against 60 men, and you think a little head jiggle is supposed to make me happy?

Yes, all seems lost, and something so little as a head jiggle seems like a drop in the bucket compared to the strength they need to win the day. And yet, that head jiggle is a sign of something better, stronger, more righteous to come.

Much like singing this song today. Lord knows the divisions we face today seem nearly insurmountable, and a little Quaker song is supposed to make it better?

Building Bridges between our divisions,
I reach out to you, will you reach out to me?
With all of our voices and all of our visions,
friends, we could make such sweet harmony.

And yet, this simple song with its haunting melody, written by Quakers in the face of nuclear proliferation, does make a difference. It does signal a call for something better. And if more and more people sing it, and mean it, maybe the divisions can be bridged. Yes, the song is not much more than a head wiggle…

…but then, so were the songs in Estonia nearly three decades ago. As described by the documentary The Singing Revolution, “between 1987 and 1991, hundreds of thousands of Estonians gathered publicly to sing forbidden patriotic songs and share protest speeches, risking their lives to proclaim their desire for independence. While violence and bloodshed was the unfortunate end result in other occupied nations of the USSR, the revolutionary songs of the Estonians anchored their struggle for freedom, which was ultimately accomplished without the loss of a single life.”

Yes, in the face of fear, anger, lies, cruelty, and the shattering of democracy… a little song, like a head wiggle, can make all the difference.

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