reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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church. [k.s. friday]

he wrote, “that building is not God.”* (john pavlovitz)

the light lit up the sky, a golden glow in a fog toward the heavens. it is one of the chicago botanic garden’s iconic displays, this tunnel of light, begging you to look up, be wrapped in its light, acknowledge the goose bumps. the luminous winter cathedral drawing people toward it. they stood, marveling, they strolled slowly, they posed for photographs, the millions of starry twinkling lights enveloping all.

i’m not much for cathedrals, really. i never have been; it’s nothing new. while i can appreciate their stunning beauty and the incredible feat it often took to build or install, they have never brought me closer to faith than any other place…outside, in the presence of others, at the piano, alone in wonder.

in my life – and in three and a half decades of my work life – i have found churches to not only house beauty. i have found churches to also house ugly. and so, i was relieved to read the words of john pavlovitz. it is important to distinguish the difference – the building is not God. and, sometimes, the best place to find the supreme deity you are seeking – no matter the name, no matter the denomination or affiliation, no matter the book of written word – is not in a place, not in a building.

the people – so many gathered there – under the arch of the winter cathedral seemed softer. the glow of light on their faces, they moved slower, offered to photograph others, gazed up. just as a community of people in a church often do, they seemed to come together, one of the benefits of “the building”. but, as i have found time and again – and, if we are to speak truth – those benefits sometimes run out. and people within become consumed by that which would never be considered a basic tenet of faith – the hypocrisies of power and control and discrimination and subjugation and competition, toxic things that “[don’t] feel like Love anymore”*.

as i walked under the night sky i knew that the cathedral would be close to the last installation on the guided path. i steeled myself for its overtones, even with its undeniable beauty.

we stood back and watched people enter it. in awe. it is truly glorious.

we approached and there was this tiny voice inside my head naysaying “church” to the other tiny voice exclaiming “wow”. both.

yet ethereal was there and it shone down on us as we walked through to the other side. and then we were once again under a night sky, full of stars we could see and stars we couldn’t see. just like faith.

“you are fully freed to run into the wide open spaces of this world, and to experience life and faith and beauty in ways you never thought possible…”*

*****

ALWAYS WITH US – solo piano ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

ALWAYS WITH US – piano with orchestration ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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the trail in. [merely-a-thought monday]

when i was choosing seats for the elton john concert in north carolina, the – predictably – least expensive seats were the ones with an obscured view. a pillar, a speaker, a wall…something was in front of the seats, not allowing you to see. or maybe the seats were behind the horizon line of the stage, the apron, making elton basically invisible.

clearly these seats – still dang expensive – weren’t right. i mean, if you can’t see him perform and you can’t really see the jumbotron why not just sit and listen to ej cd’s instead? clearly, that’s not the point.

so i stayed away from the obscured-view-seats and chose seats from which we could see all the action. high up, yes. but we could see it all.

we passed a sign in the chicago botanic garden, posted by a tiny trail. “by screening out views and creating hidden areas, this garden entices you to explore just beyond what you can see.” we couldn’t see into the garden…so we took the little trail in. it was beautiful and a little magical. a little secret garden. not obvious. beyond sight.

the work of an artist – of any medium – is like that. find the places just beyond. find the line of melody that tugs, that urges, that compels. bring those places to others so that they might explore them as well. past the horizon. past the stage. you can still hear elton from the obscured-view seats and you can still feel the energy.

in a thirty-plus year career as a minister of music i always felt that it was my job to introduce the obscured secret garden to others. for faith – regardless of denomination – is that which we cannot see, that which we cannot touch. my mission was simply to open hearts through music to see beyond what you can see, to explore beyond sight. grounding in the most basic of tenets – love, kindness, generosity, peace, embrace of all others, support, truth, fairness, equality, grace – i felt it imperative to offer music that might viscerally touch a person who might not otherwise be touched, to hold it all out there gently so that a soul could easily grasp it, hold it, be wrapped in it, be comforted by it. faith in something bigger in this universe is found in a river of changing times and circumstances and staying steadfast is like the path a leaf takes on that river, both raging whitewater and lazy currents. we open our hearts to explore, even though we cannot see.

it might be time to play my piano again. maybe. it’s been a long time – a couple years now, save for a few moments a few times. i haven’t been able to play it – the magic has been obscured from view – since, well, since i felt blindsided. but now…maybe now…finally…i can see the trail into the studio. maybe now the black and white notes lifting into the air – will heal hurting even just a little, will allow exploration and sight beyond the obvious tangible horizon, will open a heart again.

mine.

*****

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


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faith takes a little practice. [d.r. thursday]

sometimesfaith WITH EYES jpeg copy 2

blind faith.  every day.  dare i say that is the way we live?

live (verb): to be alive or have life.  we rise, we go about our day, never really certain what or who will cross our path, never absolute about any single thing we might encounter or be challenged by or be gifted with.  we make plans, we have hopes, we dream of freely checking off that which is on our list-of-things-to-do and our bucket list.

in this moment now, we cannot see the moment of the past or the moment of the future, but we know that they are there; they exist.  there is much we cannot see.  words that elicit emotional response but nothing you can see as a thing with your eyes – love, grace, forgiveness, freedom.  you can see evidence of them but not an actual thing, like the simplicity of a table or a chair.  faith is one of those amorphous things.  present as a gentle reassurance, zealous as a fire in your heart.  you can no sooner lasso faith as you can lasso love.  both are omnipotent; both are invincible.

“well i will walk by faith, even when i cannot see.” (walk by faith – jeremy camp)

and so we keep walking, never really knowing anything for sure.  we trust.  we trust the next day will come.  we trust we understand these words that capture that which we cannot see; we embrace them.  we trust we have life and that #allwillbewell.

but it suggests giving over to something bigger than us.  it suggests belief in a universe where we are aligned with each of the stars in the milky way, where we are equally important – each of us, where we are held and richly loved and granted grace and forgiveness.  where we lay our heads down to sleep and rest, believing, blindly, that next will come with the sun.

none of it is easy – our lives are not pre-scripted for ease.  but we have been gifted with big hearts, thinking minds and the ability to keep on, despite all of life’s ambiguity.

my sweet momma loved these words, “breathe in faith.  exhale fear.”  no real proof.  unless of course you count all those around you who love you, who have loved you and who will love you.  the grace you have been granted with each day.  that new day that comes.

“none of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward.  because we trust.  because we have faith.” (paulo coelho)

sometimes it takes a little practice.  one foot in front of the other.  stepping lightly.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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