I know I've been MIA, here's the latest and some of what is brewing in me... We're preparing our house and family life for our second kid, due September 28. I'm cultivating the early years of Neighbors Abbey's work in SW Atlanta and the emerging church planting that is a part of it. Joshua Case and I have been teaming up on some Church as Art emerging worship coaching projects for this fall. I'm still working with the Village Counsel of Emergent Village as we live into our being a Village green. And I'm in the middle of curating worship for Clayfire, writing a chapter for an upcoming festschrift by Ryan Bolger about hyphenated emerging projects, curating music for City Church Eastside, and writing my first full length book for Paraclete Press about the intersection the Aesthetics and God's Mission. This book (provisionally titled, "Getting Drawn In") is about the creative nature of God's mission, and our own awakening to God's calling as we step into creative and intentional lives. In researching all this I came across an old book of poems called The Singer by Calvin Miller referred or given to me by my friend Ty Saltsgiver in the 90s. In it I found this chapter XII entitled"In hell there is no music—an agonizing night that never ends as songless as a shattered violin":
"Sing the Hillside Song" they cried. There were so many of them. He wasn't even sure he could be heard above the din of all their voices. He walked among them and looked them over. In his mind he knew that the Father's Spirit wanted each of them to learn his song.
Someone in the sprawling crowd stood and handed him a lyre. "Sing for us please Singer—the Hillside Song!"
"Yes, yes," they called, "the Hillside Song"
He looked down at the lyre and held it close. He turned each thumb-set till the string knew how to sound, then he began:
"Blessed are the musical," he said, "for their's shall be never-ending song."
"Blessed are those who know the difference between their loving and their lusting, for they shall be pure in heart and understand the reason."
"Blessed are those who die for reasons that are real, for they themselves are real."
"Blessed are all those who yet can sing when all the theater is empty annd the orchestra is gone."
"Blessed is the man who stands before the cruelest king and only fears his God."
"Blessed is the mighty king who sits behind the weakest man and thinks of all their similarities."
"Earthmaker is love. He has send his only Troubadour to close the Canyon of the Damned."
Then they broke his song and cried one with one voice, "Tell us Singer, have you any hope for us? can we be saved?"
"You may if you will sing Earth- makers's Song!"
"Is there another way to cheat the Canyon of the Damned?"
"None but the Song!"
The beauty of Miller's language here, to me, is that there is a song that wants to be played. There is a way out of loneliness and despair, that comes with willfully listening to the song within... And that you can't short cut that listening pathway with some kind of formula or group membership. We have to keep listening, and singing.