I’ll Fly Away
I have found it puzzling, affirming and–on occasion–even irritating how certain facets of my childhood faith rise to the surface without being invited. And none more so than hymns. At times of frustration when I willingly would have thrown everything from the past overboard, certain melodies have remained, loyal as Labradors, allowing me to sink into their comfort and cry. So while my beliefs continue to encompass an ever-larger sense of Spirit, these first gifts of song aren’t about to go anywhere.
It’s not surprising, then, that a chord was struck when I heard this http://www.npr.org/2011/02/19/133877190/true-grit-a-new-score-from-old-familiar-tunes on NPR. It explains that the score of the recent box-office hit True Grit wasn’t an Oscar contender because the music was primarily a weaving together of past pieces. If you haven’t heard the film’s take on “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”–both the piano solo and Iris Dement–do yourself a favor and catch it here.
So, why do these pieces etch a permanent place in our collective soul?
I’m thinking they are the sound synapses that help us make sense of experiences and times too big to bridge by ourselves. Resting in the Seymour care center, my Aunt Elma, a life-long member of the Brushy Church north of Plano, would begin singing “Shall we gather at the river?” and visibly move to a place of greater peace. Sitting in the pews at St. Thomas Episcopal here in Denver–a church that took a strong stand for racial and gender equality–hearing “We shall not be moved” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aor6-DkzBJ0&feature=related changed my DNA.
This morning, marking the birthday of a friend recently passed, I clearly heard Johnny Cash singing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA4JyAONd_I&feature=related
And just for a moment, I flew away.