Rain falls; the trees and bushes and grass in our backyard sizzle with a deep current of color that looks synthetic, it is so green and lush and vibrant. Wet leaves reflect the light that hovers between the clouds and the earth.
This morning is my time of peace, of settled slowness. No meetings, no work; I gladly trade my Sundays for the unhurried pace of a quiet Friday. Empty house, room for deep breathing and small things that remind me of myself. The back door is open and the cadence of drizzling rain mixes with a melody on the current of the slightest breeze.
Today I am listening to music; a collection of cover tunes. I am fascinated by the prospect of interpretation. To hear musicians who create powerful art in their own name lean into the work of another and bring new life – I have always found this type of work compelling.
I think it’s how life goes, really. A wise man said There is nothing new under the sun; to some degree, we’re all just covering what has come before. We burn with passion early on; we blaze new trails and grab at opportunities and sometimes wreck ourselves with the notion that we’re not doing enough and then we grow into ourselves and realize that ultimately we’re just covering the human existence. It’s mostly been done before.
I grew up encouraged and affirmed. The message I received was that I could do anything and be anything. For the longest time, I interpreted that message incorrectly; I thought myself set apart, different – maybe even better than.
God forgive me.
The slightest twisted interpretation – all my own, I must add; I do not lay that notion at my parents’ feet – led me into some twisted situations. My head was a mess for a while. It added tremendous dimension to my faith journey, to the submission of self to a greater whole. Rising up out of that murky water, I found relief in the idea that I didn’t carry the weight of the world on my shoulders in terms of doing great things. I was – I am – simply part of a whole, a stitch in the quilt of existence that has always been and always will be. The paradox in that realization is that rather than defeat and despair, I felt freer to create, more equipped to do and be anything, to seize this one wild life and to do something with it.
It’s always a matter of perspective, isn’t it?
I’ve never listened to A Tribute to Joni Mitchell straight through; not until today. I knew of Prince’s version of A Case of You and I’ve played it over and over and over again, drawn into the incredibly piano work and depth of passion and his voice – that voice….
But this morning, I’m listening to all of it. Track by track, artists who have invested their lives into bringing truth into the world through music are offering their own versions of Joni Mitchell’s truth. These songs are so personal and precious, tiny snippets of a unique life and distinct moments in the life and art of a woman born in 1943. I know these songs; they are part of my own history, when I learned and listened and even offered my own versions during my stint as a working musician in Lubbock, Texas in the early 80’s. Today, they fall into my ears and stir my heart in a gentle form of grace.
The Ecclesiastes passage once depressed me; I read it as Why even bother? Nothing even matters.
But I don’t feel that way anymore. I accept it as a gift, as freedom, as grace.
Life as an exquisite cover tune; what a great opportunity. (insert smiley face).
The sun comes up and the sun goes down,
then does it again, and again—the same old round.
The wind blows south, the wind blows north.
Around and around and around it blows,
blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
but the sea never fills up.
The rivers keep flowing to the same old place,
and then start all over and do it again.
Everything’s boring, utterly boring—
no one can find any meaning in it.
Boring to the eye,
boring to the ear.
What was will be again,
what happened will happen again.
There’s nothing new on this earth.
Year after year it’s the same old thing.
Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”?
Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody’ll remember them either.
Don’t count on being remembered.
Ecclesiastes 1.3-11, The Message