This isn’t, strictly speaking, a music-related post or a review, but I wanted to share with you a little bit about the other passion close to my heart – faith. If you’ve looked around on my site, you have probably found that I offer a specialised focus on Church Music. This is because I am a Christian and I regularly attend worship at one of the churches in Edinburgh. I firmly believe that music is a vital and important part of our human lives not just because it is fun, but because it is a way of expressing, sharing and experiencing something beyond our words and our rationality. For me, music is a way to connect with God as well as a way to connect with others.
Why do I say all this? Well, I have been away over the last weekend at a very special place called Greenbelt Festival. It’s a festival focused around the three areas of faith, arts and justice. Broadly, faith means Christian, but many invited speakers are Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, Agnostic or from another faith tradition. The festival is also passionate about justice, aiming to be a voice speaking up for the poor and oppressed and inspiring people to live in a sustainable and fair way. However, it’s the arts I am always most drawn to. Greenbelt is a place where art is linked to faith, but it’s not just Christian bands and paintings of the cross. It’s a place where art and music is about challenging ideas and inspiring people to think differently about the world. It’s the place where I learned that Christian music doesn’t have to mean singing about God, but, for me, it always means singing to God.
Mainly, however, this post is because I wanted to share a lovely poem written by one of the 20,000 Greenbelters there over the weekend. I hope it shares a little of what I took away from this weekend, and inspires you to see how art (and music in particular) can help you express, share and experience those deepest things inside you.
before conception, when a Holy Trinity love each other very much and want to invite you to the party.
with the sight of a baby in a sling being sung to by her father.
in some fields near Cheltenham where you can find a little patch of home.
with music and dancing and celebration.
when people put past cares behind them and grasp a clean slate.
when for the first time in months when you hear
“you give and take away”
you can at last sing
“my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name”
and mean it.
with new connections and old recollections with cups of ale and gales of laughter.
when you let go of the day-to-day drudgery,
cry yourself silly in the arms of a friend,
before laughing yourself happy in the arms of Jesus.
when you find yourself not doing what you might have expected
and instead tagging along on a whim with fellow travellers for an unscripted adventure
and are extremely glad that you did.
when something else has ended or died, often, like a phoenix from its ashes.
when you recognise you only have a finite length of time at your disposal,
so many opportunities and choices all the time
but this isn’t so that you sit paralysed in indecision
it’s so you relish in the richness of it all and try and squeeze the best out of it
whilst still making time for the ordinary-yet-potentially-hallowed times
of unplanned nothing-muchness.
when you acknowledge and accept that pain and doubt and uncertainty and all manner of darkness
may not be ignored or wished away
and that even without it always lessening
you can live through & with it.
with a dawning hope that all will be well one day, somehow
and everything until then is just the journey.
with glorious, terrifying freedom.
Written by the talented poet who goes by the handle of stirringthepensive.