Life, Faith and Urban Farming

The life and happenings of an unconventional pastor and urban farmer living in the city with a family of five.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Music, Meditation and Lent

Smoke swirled in the wind as a fire burned on my front porch to make palm branches into black ash for worship that evening. It was Ash Wednesday and BJ had planned a beautiful contemplative prayer experience in the space that The Open Door may be moving our worship gatherings to come June or July. Earlier in the day I had collected the dried palms from last year's Palm Sunday service and now I burned them in a prayerful afternoon.

Palm Sunday is a strange celebration for the church each year. I remember singing loud songs of praise as a child, hearing the full horn section in worship blasting out triumphantly as the pastors would process down the isle, everyone waiving palms in celebration. All this, knowing that it was the start to Holy Week, the time when we reflect upon the death of Jesus. Now, 25 years later, each year I take the palms of celebration and burn them to ashes, ashes that represent our own impending death. Palm Sunday is a little less celebratory at The Open Door, more focused on the start of Holy Week than a pre-Easter celebration.

For this self led prayer service people moved from one station to the next reflecting on their own mortality, Jesus' suffering, and our own suffering in life. I was given the opportunity to impart the ashes I had earlier created on the men, women and children who finished the experience of contemplation and prayer. It was a very powerful experience for me as I told people, "from dust we were created and to dust we will return." I think Ash Wednesday is one of the most difficult Christian practices we have, we choose not to ignore death, but to look it in the face. That's not easy.

BJ had found some great ambient music to play during the service. I think the experience of prayer, of imparting the ashes on friends and reflecting upon the struggles in the life of my family these days inspired me to go home and make some music. That night I recorded this song. It's super simple, two chords with layers of guitar and synth on top. Since Ash Wednesday I've continued experimenting with instrumental music. I've recorded ten pieces, one that's based on an acoustic guitar, a handful that began with swelling synthesizer sounds, and one or two that are all electric guitars. This practice of making music during lent has been great for me, it has been a life giving practice that I hope will be life giving for others in their spiritual practices or just in bringing a little peace and calm in this crazy time. And yes, I find it interesting that a life-giving practice came out of a reflection on mortality. There is no life without death, at least not as we human beings know it.

1 comment:

Joanne Brainard said...

Thank you for this music. Soulful and touching!