reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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donkey love. [two artists tuesday]

elfie and adaline grinned at us over the fence. clearly they thought we were kindred spirits. or maybe they just wanted one of the treats we held in our hands. either way, they were cute as all get-out and my heart was happy-happy to be heehaw-hanging out with them.

i do have a thing about donkeys. horses, too, as you know. but donkeys, like giant dogs, seem really doable. sweet expressive eyes and much shorter and more containable than horses, donkeys tug at me. i guess we’ll see. maybe one of these days. obviously, this town we live in won’t be the place. i can’t imagine our perfectly-yarded neighbors-to-the-east thinking that donkeys-next-door would be ok, though our neighbors-to-the-north are overrunning their place with all kinds of non-organic-non-living-plastic-rubber-battery-run-powered-by-electricity-noisy stuff so what’s a coupla donkeys in the ‘hood-mix?

a long time ago – over twenty years now – when i was directing a christmas cantata at a church i decided to go out on a limb and use a live donkey in the production. i made arrangements with a local stable and they were bringing out the donkey the morning of the cantata. we, necessarily, rolled out a plastic runner and i started the overture. ‘mary’ had to duck under the door frame as the donkey was led in by ‘joseph’ and started toward the chancel. the biggest-donkey-on-the-planet, it seems, carried in the star of our cantata. it took very few lanky strides to reach the front of the church. the donkey took its place next to the choir, shoving a few people over as it positioned itself before ‘mary’ was helped down and it was led out. giggling is good during cantatas, i reminded myself, as the giggle spread through the pews. apparently, there are donkeys and then there are donkeys. and this one – was actually a mule – much larger than its donkey-parent. a little bit of false advertising on the part of the farm, but what-the-heck. maybe i should have been a little more specific: no hybrids.

so elfie and addie, regular-sized donkeys, were pretty cute. watching them renewed my i-want-a-donkey and i looked at websites that even advertised miniature donkeys, so as to avoid cantata ptsd.

donkeys are smart creatures. it is said that you have to be smarter than a donkey in order to train it. it’s also assumed that they are dumb-as-rocks because they are rather stubborn. in researching i read, “things need to make sense to a donkey, they aren’t just willing to obey blindly.” ahhh. i can relate.

and they really were big grinners, those cutie-pies. though they don’t look like they have a sarcastic bone in their bodies, i did wonder if they were smirks and not grins. because they looked at us over the fence as if they recognized us. like they were saying, “yeah. we get it. you guys are artists. we’re donkeys. uh-huh. kinda outliers. samesies.”

heeeehaw.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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“you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” [merely-a-thought monday]

dream

i found a note the other day, tucked inside a book.  it was a jotting-down-of-a-memory and was a quote from The Boy.  he was five and he said, “look at how i can snap (my fingers).  at 5 years old!!  i could become a snap teacher and teach everyone how to snap!”  never too young to dream.

jen is zealous.  she is reallyyyy zealous.  i don’t think i have known anyone who is as zealous a learner as jen.  it is invigorating and inspiring to be around someone who embraces all she does not know with questions and a hope for understanding, as opposed to resistance or suspicion.  she actively seeks out ways to learn the new, the unknown, wholeheartedly jumping in and swimming.  she knows that vitality comes with opening yourself to new things.

pantene recently ran a new video series.  it’s referencing the holidays and in it transgender people talk about what it’s like to go home.  it’s breathtakingly sad the number of LGBTQ women and men who are not welcomed at home because someone cannot learn, ask questions, try to understand.  instead, resistance and suspicion and a whole lot of judgement fiercely reign and the dream of being all together celebrating is devastatingly dashed.  squelching another’s dreams is not the ultimate job of our job as humankind.

yesterday i conducted a christmas cantata.  ahead of time, i had, for hours and hours on end, researched songs to find the pieces i felt would resonate with people, the pieces that would be generously bestowing of spirit and not off-putting.  i looked for the language i thought would tug at their hearts and remind them of the light, the miracle of the season.  when one song didn’t quite fit for me after i had chosen it, i wrote a new one.   they were labeled ‘contemporary’ songs, with melodies, rhythm, chords, years of copyright differing from the hymns in the hymnals.  over thirty people participated:  a choir, a ukulele band, a worship band, a violinist, a violist.  the result was truly beautiful, the message clear and the music gorgeous.  our little church – a church that proudly purports to be reconciling and all-embracing – had moments truly holy in that service.

h is 93.  every week at rehearsal he is ready and willing to learn something.  he is steeped in traditional – after all, he is 93, his year of copyright long ago.  and yet, those new melodies, harmony, challenging rhythms he has learned to sing have brought a freshness of life to him.  never too old to dream.  he knows that vitality comes with opening yourself to new things.

but back to yesterday.  i remain unfulfilled in one way.  because the sad part about yesterday?  all the work and time that these dedicated volunteers had put into this cantata – with my careful choices based on over thirty years as a minister of music – was not seen by the first service folks.  the word ‘contemporary’ made it unfathomable for that service to host without complaint, relegating it only to the second service.  the spirit of camaraderie, the support of the efforts of others in their own church, the truly beautiful music that was made was lost on this first service.  i try to understand their dedication to traditional music, to choice, and i heartedly honor it in selecting music for every other week of the church year.  but i fail to understand their unwillingness to even try to embrace something else, something ‘new’.  i fail to understand any reinforcement of ‘different’, of divisiveness. especially as simply one day and a festive community celebration of the holiday.  especially when churches are constantly looking for relevancy and vitality is one of the necessary ingredients.  they do not know what they missed.  closing off.  what they are missing.

jen and h would like each other.  they both openly embrace new.  they both openly embrace others.  they both dream dreams, happily engaging in life, snapping.  what a gift to be around.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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