Silence (and other figments of our imagination)

shot_1411036245972Once a year or so, Rev. Aija lets me take the reins (and the pulpit) for what we call “Music Sunday”—a worship experience that’s all about music, except when it’s not.  Coming up with a theme for Music Sunday is always pretty easy—there’s always a song I’ve wanted to find an excuse for the choir to sing, or a topic I’ve wanted to write a song about, or a story I’ve wanted to tell.  Except for this year.

This year, as America’s democracy seems to have devolved into a battle of mudslinging and “who’s evil-er than whom,” and as ever-improving and ever more ubiquitous technology makes it harder for injustice to disguise itself as rumor or hyperbole, I find myself feeling inadequate.  There is too much wrong with the world for one little sermon or one new choir anthem to fix it.

My prayer habits are quite a bit different now than they used to be, but my spirituality is still one of stubbornly second-person theology: I no longer even pretend to understand fully who or what God really is, but I know it’s not me.  So after struggling for too long to find the right focus for Music Sunday, I threw my hands up and asked the Universe for a hint—and silence was the response.  Not silence-the-absence-of-response silence.  Silence-the-potent-beginnings-of-all-that-is silence.

It started with a Facebook post from a friend of mine:


One line in particular caught my eye, because I hear it a lot from people of color when they express frustration with the “shallow understanding from people of good will” that so often describes the reaction that I and other white allies fumble to manage as we work for justice.  “Have a seat and study some more.”

In other words, shut up and listen.  There are important things to be said, and you need to hear them.

So this Sunday at UUCV we’ll be seeking silence.  Talking about silence.  And singing about silence.  And most importantly, spending more time in silence than nearly any of us are comfortable with, because growth is hardly ever comfortable.

We’ll also be hearing some breathtakingly gorgeous music, of course.  You know I love to show off my little choir, and they are working magic with the Mark Hayes arrangement of “The Sound of Silence”—last night’s rehearsal left me with goosebumps.  Adding Dani and Marc, who will be backing us up on Sunday on drums and bass, will just take things to a whole new level.

We’ll also be premiering a new choral piece I wrote for the occasion, called “Sing It.”  The lyrics follow; I do hope you’ll join us on Sunday at 10:30 AM to hear the choir give it wings—and I hope it moves you to the right kind of silence.

Sermon audio

Choir video

“Sing It”

words & music ©2016 David M. Glasgow

In the silence,
without noise, without words to save the day,
I can hear me, but I’m not sure what to say.
Rage against?  Stand behind?
Play it safe?  Play the hero?
Do I ever say a word that starts inside?
Now I finally have the chance, and I hide.

Then I hear it—
though at first I’m afraid I’m not alone—
soft and clear, it speaks a truth I recognize as my own.
And it speaks, without words, of a strength here within me
that could change the world if only I would try.
So I slowly close my eyes, and breathing deep,

I sing it soft and low and gentle
like the breeze that runs its fingers through my hair.
I sing it deep and true and wordless,
like the beating of a heart that’s always there.
I sing it silently within, and let the music work its magic
in the veins that carry life to every corner of my soul.
When I finally claim the silence,
I sing it gentle.

Eyes are open,
and at last I can see I’m not alone.
You’ve been singing too,
and your spirit harmonizes with my own.
And we sing, and our hearts gather strength here among us
that can change the world if only we will try.
And when we know we’re not alone,

we sing it loud!  We sing it strong!
We sing it boldly from the mountaintop,
and bravely at the coffee shop,
and lovingly to everyone we meet!
Love is born in silence,
but for love to survive,
we must sing it loud!

What do you say to that?