“I do not care for reasonable painting at all. My turbulent mind needs agitation, needs to liberate itself… There is in me some black depth that must be appeased.
…for once again articulating beautifully the things that are deep within my heart.
“It was the error of the Reformation period that for the most part we could only see what divided us and we failed to grasp existentially what we have in common in terms of the great deposit of sacred Scripture and the early Christian creeds. For me, the great ecumenical step forward of recent decades is that we have become aware of all this common ground, that we acknowledge it as we pray and sing together, as we make our joint commitment to the Christian ethos in our dealings with the world, as we bear common witness to the God of Jesus Christ in this world as our inalienable, shared foundation.” - Pope Benedict XVI, from his Meeting with the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany from Sept. 2011
“While you slept 45,000 kids died of starvation and malnutrition. What’s worse is you don’t give a shit! And what worse is that you are more concerned that I said ‘shit’ than the 45,000 kids that died last night. And that’s what’s wrong with our Christianity. We’ve taken our Christian faith, which calls us to be passionate among the poor and the oppressed and to sacrifice everything we have to heal the sufferings of others, and we’ve twisted it to a morality that makes sure people don’t use four letter words.
Written Aug. 3rd, 2012
Hey World, I’m Sorry. Love, Grumpy
I’m out at Soulfest in Gilford, New Hampshire among the pine trees and ski lifts and rolling green hills this week. Today was a really good day, and I felt compelled here near the end of it to put a grateful word or two out into the abyss of the web. Too many days pass where I don’t do that, and I am resolved that today won’t be one of them.
Can I back up for a second? I am a full-on city girl, in every sense of the word. Yeah, the street where I grew up in Jersey was tree-lined and dappled with sunlight, but a 40x50 lot of grass and a cherry-blossom tree in the front lawn was about as much nature as I was treated to, until I started going to camp in highschool—in preparation for which, I visited an allergist each spring to get prescriptions for steroid inhalers and albuterol and strong antihistamines, just so I wouldn’t be in a coma all summer. The kooky and amazing relationships I formed and maintained during those years still comprise some of my dearest and most cherished memories. They were worth the influx of drugs into my bloodstream. But I definitely don’t count myself as an outdoors-y person. When I was little and we would go to Memorial Day church picnics or a park for 4th of July, I was always wishing I could take my laden-down paper plate and watermelon slice into our van and eat it in there. Why would I want to eat outside, with all the dirt…and the ants…and the bees…and the dust…and the pollen? Call me bubble girl, I guess, but I never understood why anybody would want to do that. As a rule, I still don’t. This very morning my husband laughed at me when I started coughing, and he asked me what was wrong, and I looked around at the pines and the open fields and I said, “it’s all this dirty air!” Hey, if there’s dirt in it, it’s dirty, right? (I know…pollution is actually disgusting, even if you can’t see or smell it. And dirt is actually good for you. This phobia of the outdoors is mostly psychological, and I am fully aware of it)
So anyway. I’m a city girl. And I’m here in New Hampshire on what is a large ski resort during the year. It’s big and rambling and chock full of people wearing everything from Christian shirts with repurposed logos to LOTR-style capes and really, really weird hats. I’m a city girl, as I said, and I’m an introvert to my core. (INFP, if there are any Myers-Briggs nerds out there)
Needless to say, festivals haven’t historically been my jam, being outside and all, and having lots of people and all. I said as much to my husband at lunch today in artist catering. He asked me if there was any way I could find one thing to be excited about, to which I replied something about the pollen and the “dirty” air and the people in the weird hats. He shrugged. I’m stubborn, and I think he knew pressing the point would do no good at that moment (I’m not proud of how true that is, incidentally).
Two minutes later I saw a little boy talking to Jon Foreman—he was a big fan, and so stoked to meet him, and Jon was more than gracious and overextending. Something about the scene was just what I needed. I decided to adjust my attitude. The little boy was sweet and profusely excited, and also, blind. I don’t know, there was just something about it.
Then I rode a ski lift up a green mountain with two strangers on the way to the mountaintop stage, where I had an afternoon show. They were really nice. And then after the show I talked to C——-, who has brain cancer, and who really wanted to meet me. I almost told him, “Look kid, I’m actually a really crotchety person.” But I decided otherwise. Glad I did. I think it would have been a real Debbie Downer kind of a moment.
(I rode down with a lady and her daughter I had never met. Mama had just finished chemo for ovarian cancer, and was rocking her bare head. She’s doing really well. Praise God for her healing.)
The afternoon continued with lots of great conversations at artist catering. I had a geeky moment and told Peter Furler and Phil Joel about how my first CD that I purchased with my own money had been “Take Me To Your Leader” by the Newsboys. And guess what? They were super nice, and down to earth, and not grumpy at all, unlike a certain grinch we all know.* I got to hear about Justin McRoberts’ new projects…and spent a blessed half hour in confession with Fr. Louis from Haiti. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will really turn your life around, for real. I could wax theological about it here, but I won’t. This is about thankfulness. That man in black was a blessing from heaven today for a grumpy person who really needs a reminder once in a while that GOOD GOD, people and life and music and festivals and dirt and trees, they’re all really great things. Geez.
I played at Mercy Street at 7:30 tonight and experienced the love and welcome of a really warm group of folks that turned out. It was a really beautiful time for me too. Music is magical like that. (Thank you, everyone who came.)
Finally…at the end of the night, I stood sidestage for Switchfoot. I haven’t been brought to tears that many times during a 30 minute period since I heard NBC was discontinuing 30 Rock. Sometimes really simple statements or questions, posed by a really thoughtful writer/artist/singer like Jon Foreman, cut straight to the heart and pinpoint your deepest desires. That’s what happened to me tonight.
“This is your life…are you who you want you to be?” “I dare you to move. I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor.” I desperately needed to hear and sing those things tonight. I’m an artist…and I spend untold hours wrestling with the light and darkness it takes to make good music. Not only that, I wrestle with God and myself at night, lying in bed, just trying to figure out what the hell it all means… I tremble about having children, because I don’t know how a semi-well-adjusted adult can possibly be part of raising an actually-well-adjusted child. I worry about my songs…are they honest? Am I guilty of being disingenuous? Do I work hard enough? Do I even know God? Do I understand that He loves me? Do I believe what I say I believe? Is my life a witness to Goodness, Beauty, and Truth? Do I run hard enough after real, transcendent Beauty? If I don’t, is there mercy for that? Questions, questions, questions…wrestling, wrestling, wrestling.
Even when you know the answers, the questions are worth asking.
No point here, honestly. Just a bunch of thoughts, cast out on the waters of the web.