Weekly Reflection 5/26

The first time I heard Mary D. Williams sing was at an interfaith gathering after 9/11. Schooled in the Spirituals and the gospel music they birthed, she offered a lamentation that gave voice to generations of anger and anguish and abiding hope. She sang the words of Psalm 61, full of grief and longing — When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I... The echo of her voice still visits me as the sound of strength, perseverance, assurance in the midst of deep pain. I listened to her nearly ten years ago, when the children of Sandy Hook were shot, and again last week, and again yesterday. As Timothy Tyson observes, “Though her voice is uniquely her own, her music and her message emerge from a chorus, born in the bondage of slavery, that still speaks to our struggles against what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called the “thingification” of human beings. Her power as a singer and educator comes from her heart and her scholarship, from her commitment to humanity and her belief in the God who drowned Pharaoh’s army and still seeks to let His people go, and from her faith in the blood that has signed all our names.” Professor Craig Werner, musicologist and chair of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says her music offers “a glimpse into a world where the ideals of democracy and Christianity are something more than empty words.” There are so many empty words when what we need most is music and movement, the clarity and courage to call our political leaders to account and to create change.

The NH Council of churches, led by our clergy siblings in Texas, invites congregations who are able to ring bells today (5/26) at Noon in a moment of national lament. As you are able, I hope you might share this invitation with your congregations. Ring your bells. And then ring the phone lines to every local, state and national leader. Or beat the guns into gardening tools yourself. Peace and courage, Candice PS — Image from the Love Project by 29 Pieces, an artists collective founded in response to gun violence, that works with students using art to teach social emotional learning.

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