A Musical #TBT

Usually, if I was going to have a musical #TBT, I would post an old performance picture or video to social media and let that be.  Today, however,  I want to talk about a song — a song from my past, a song that it seems is more foundational to everything I believe than I might have understood, even yesterday.

I’ve been working on letting go of some things and some relationships in my life, things and people that perhaps I have held too close for too long.  Psychologists and theologians often agree that holding too tightly  to (or, as I like to say, making an idol of…) anything is often the path to unhappiness.  Certainly, holding too tightly to one thing or another often prevents me from seeing the light and the grace of good that surrounds me.

So, I searched for some spiritual exercise to help me work on this letting go exercise. While searching through writings about the Ignatian exercises, exercises that are sometimes excellent support for decision making,   I did indeed find a prayer for letting go, but not one written by St. Ignatius.  This prayer, written by an unknown author at an unknown time, is often associated with the set freefamous Serenity Prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr and associated with 12-step movements.  The prayer is wonderful, all about releasing anxiety and possessiveness and, well, seeing the Imago Dei in all people.  But  imagine my surprise, however, when the very first line turned out to be words from my New Thought past:

I behold the Christ in you

And then, my friends, the music came-a-tumblin’ down (okay, that is a joke that only people who know what I mean when I refer to the Yellow Hymn Book will get, but I’m laughing).  And with it, came not only a lesson in letting go but a reminder about the power of simply singing together.  Oh, yes, and a complete understanding of the theological currents that have brought me to where I stand, on the edge of a  ministry that combines personal spiritual direction, storytelling, and music.

That conversation is for another time, today, I want to talk about the song we sang every Sunday.  I only needed the first sentence for the whole poem to return:

I behold the Christ in you,
Here the life of God I see;
I can see a great peace too,
I can see you whole and free.

I behold the Christ in you,
I can see this as you walk;
I see this in all you do,
I can see this as you talk.

I behold God’s love expressed,
I can see you filled with power;
I can see you ever blessed,
See Christ in you hour by hour.

I behold the Christ in you,
I can see that perfect one
Led by God in all you do,
I can see God’s work is done.

Every Sunday, together, we sang these words by poet Frank Whitney (if you want to hear the music by Bill Provost that we used, follow this link) and through those words, I began to learn about the presence of God in all creation.  The text of the hymn was inspired by the text of  Colossians 1:26-27:  the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (NRSV).”

But in those days, I never thought about it as a song of “letting go”.  Letting go used to mean walking away in my limited human vocabulary.  Maybe, just maybe, letting go simply means seeing through the lens of love  instead of through the lens of our current limits as incarnated beings .  That idea is only mildly possible for us human beings,  but I think I have to try, each and every day.

So I am grateful today for a song that imprinted itself deeply on my soul and still has the power to change my perspective.  I am grateful that I can still hear the strains of those many voices singing with so much faith.  And I am grateful that I too, have let go and continue letting go, in love and respect.

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