Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My favorite song

Books, movies, art -- the #1 spot, the favorite, of each of these changes fairly often. But for music, my favorite stays steady. I'm so glad it is in our hymnal ... even if my favorite verse, the fourth, isn't.

In our hymnal, we call it by the first line -- "My Life Flows On in Endless Song." But to me, it is always "How Can I Keep from Singing?"

To me, it is a prayer. It is a hope. It is my personal mission statement.

We don't always live up to our mission statements. There have been times when I could not sing. My lips couldn't form the words; it was all I could do to breathe, I couldn't spare the air to do more than that.

But inside, I like to think my soul continued to sing.

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth's lamentation.

Down here with my earthly and emotional attachments, I can feel as if I'm not moving. But my life continues to move forward with this gift of existence.

I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails a new creation

When I stop, when I take a break from focusing on my existence, I am in awe of the process that continues to create -- create a person, an idea, seemingly from nothing.

Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

Honking horns and illness and pain ... but there is a sweet song, of love and life. If I listen, I can hear it. I comes from all over the universe ... and it also comes from inside me.

What through the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.

The tempest can be so loud, so very loud it seems to drown out everything else. But still it is there. The truth. That loves exists. That we exist. And it is all a gift.

What through the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.

The dark night can be so very dark. There are times when life hurts more than it brings joy. But we can still find the song called hope. And it gives us strength to go one more day.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

I strive for this. As I cling with bloody hands, just to hang on for one more day, inside I try to find that quiet confidence that knows that there is limitless,undying love, and it will sustain me.

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,

The tyrants can be literal, those in power who know their time of power is passing. The tyrants can be internal, those forces that hold me back. And they can be literally internal ... cancer cells being extinguished.

When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?

Part of this power of the universe, this love, connects us all. I send out a notice -- clear scans! -- and friends all over the earth sing out joy.

In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.

So many prisons. Today, I think of those in Iran. Tomorrow, I think of the parents looking out the windows of their children's hospital rooms.

When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

No matter our battle, we continue, unbroken, still walking in integrity.

I lift my eyes, the cloud grows thin,
I see the blue above it
And day by day this pathway clears,
Since first I learned to love it

It's so hard to see past the clouds sometimes. Recently, though, I began to see the blue sky again. Every day, I see a little more sky, as I regain my love and joy for life.

The peace of God restores my soul,
A fountain ever springing

Whatever words I use to understand "God," the Process, the Universe, the Love -- God provides healing. Limitless healing. My soul can be battered ... and restored, yet again.

All things are mine since I am loved
How can I keep from singing?

I am loved. I am loved on a personal level by friends and family. I am loved by complete strangers, I know that now, I have evidence. Whatever my understanding of God, and it is fluid and often changing, it always, always, involves love.

There is a force of love in the world that connects all.
Existence is a profound, overwhelming gift.

If I know those two things, then I am hearing the song of the universe. It comes from the farthest stretches of space, all along the earth, it swirls around me, I am inside it, and then from inside myself, the same song can be heard. I am in the song and of the song.

How can I keep from singing?


Strange Attractor said...

Beautiful song. I can't believe I've never thought to buy a version for my iPod. Do you recommend any particular versions.

I love the last two paragraphs of your commentary. You've summed a lot there in a small space.

Lizard Eater said...

I "collect" versions of this song -- and there's some amazing ones out there. But I think, hands-down, the all-time best is by Eva Cassidy.


ms. kitty said...

My favorite too, LE. Thanks for the exegesis.

SC Universalist said...

Showing my age - I have to go with Pete Seeger. This version is slow

steven r

Strange Attractor said...

I completely adore Eva Cassidy. I will definitely look it up tonight. Thanks.