Singing, Oh My God, Singing.

This weekend Kathy Bullock came to Ashfield to facilitate a weekend of gospel goodness and I had the fortune of being allowed to go purely on the merits of my bread baking and dish washing and shoulder massaging skills (well, and maybe some singing skills too). I am reminded of every other intentional short term community that I have ever been part of, as the experience was moving in many, many ways.

If music is how I experience that which is god, this weekend was so god-filled that I was left overflowing with that sense of peace that only comes out of having gone through hard times and allowed them to well up and be healed. That is perhaps the best part for me about singing gospel and spirituals. They take those hard times, tell them truthfully, and allow for that bit of hope to sneak in. Even those songs which are written in times of despair, like Thomas Dorsey's "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" when he lost his first wife and child during childbirth, allow me to let those feelings of grief and frustration out, openly in the company of others, breaking off for moments unable to sing, grab a tissue and start again when the moment passes. Those who perhaps are less familiar with this singing through grief sometimes have told me (ie. at funerals) to keep singing, but really, for me the moment of letting the feeling and the tears and the lack of voice through is just as important as the moment of continuing with the song. The others hold me and it up while I am unable to continue and I, in turn, raise my voice in adoration and praise when they are stumbling.

That said, I opened talking about intentional short term communities. I miss camp and my classroom. I miss those places where we are consciously working towards something more and something better and something sillier simultaneously. This community where I live approaches that feeling, and I understand that we can't all be woven so thoroughly into each others' lives when we are simultaneously working and schooling and having children and and and. So I make do with the littler moments with fewer people. I miss singing and checking in, though, and wish that I could find that space here. Maybe once Greenfield Harmony starts back up again I will not miss it as much. As for now, I have to go and put pickles in jars with an excellent crew of people. Though we do not sing together, they give me hope.