Just before 5am I was awakened by a disturbing dream where a group of supervisors demanded that I quantify what percentage of myself was actively engaged in the resistance; I kept coming up empty because none of them accepted any of the ways I was engaged as valid, and both in my dream and in my waking, I was scared and exhausted from trying. I never went back to sleep, instead my mind worrying over the next four years and wondering if any of us will ever get a good night’s sleep again.
I finally dragged myself out of bed to make coffee and sing today’s hymn – another one that I tend to flip past, not because it is unknown but because it doesn’t ever seem to connect with what I’m looking for.
Well, tie me to a fence post and stick my head in mud. This was exactly what my soul and my dreams needed. Take a look, and I’ll explain.
Mysterious Presence, source of all —
the world without, the soul within —
thou fount of life, O hear our call,
and pour thy living waters in.
Thou breathest in the rushing wind,
thy spirit stirs in leaf and flower;
nor wilt thou from the willing mind
withhold thy light and love and power.
Thy hand unseen to accents clear
awoke the psalmist’s trembling lyre,
and touched the lips of holy seer
with flame from thine own altar fire.
That touch divine again impart,
still give the prophet’s burning word;
and vocal in each waiting heart
let living psalms of praise be heard.
You see, over the last month or so, it’s become vitally clear to me that what I can bring to the resistance is art – art in our congregational lives, in our worship, in our public witness, in our spiritual practices. Visual arts – drawing, painting, sculpture, graphics. Performing arts – dance, theater, music. Written arts – poetry, prose, spoken word, sermons. Liturgical arts. Circus arts. Burlesque arts. You see, when a society loses its art, it loses its soul. When we engage artistically, we cross borders, we connect, we forge relationships, we engage the difficult, we take risks, we are reminded of who we are and what is true. We find the truth in beauty and remember the beauty of truth.
And this hymn reminds us – reminds me – that the mysterious presence not only lives in all existence but inspires both the singer and the prophet, the poet and the sage. We need inspiration. We crave inspiration. In this incredibly uninspiring time, we need inspiration more than ever.
How engaged am I, Dream Supervisors? A lot more than zero… in fact, much closer to 100%. Because while I am tired and scared, I know that resistance looks like many things, and sometimes it looks like art.