Tag Archives: music

Oh, Hello

Last week I discovered this song by The Oh Hellos, which I think may be a Chrsitian band. It’s catchy, folky, group-sing kinda stuff, which I always enjoy.

The other day I signed up for SoulPulse, mostly out of curiosity. Twice a day for two weeks it sends you a text or email and you fill out a short survey about your spiritual health. Then it gives you a summary. You can read more about it here.

Measuring your spiritual health seems kind of impossible, if you ask me, but it’s an interesting exercise in mindfulness. Twice a day it pops up in my inbox (oh, hello!), and I have to  think about how close I feel aware of God or how joyful and peaceful I feel.

I often don’t know how to answer these questions. Peaceful compared to what? What exactly does awareness of God feel like?

Sometimes you do know, though, like when you get to interview a 10 year old (like I did last week) or you are with people you love. I don’t know exactly how to measure joy and peace, but I’m glad to be paying attention.

P.S. Here’s a GIF

Thoughts for Thursday

Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted let rescue begin
Come find your mercy, Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time I feel like you know me pretty well. I love all things high church, Episcopalian, rubrics, liturgy, smells and bells, organs, the whole spiel. I’m staunchly traditionalist, let’s-bring-back-Rite-I, and it will be a cold day in hell when there’s a screen in my church.

I never went to another church, but I did go to some Christian schools growing up so I had a weird time in my youth where I didn’t know what was going on. I had two very different experiences of “church” and Christianity and they were so opposite. On the one hand I had my church, full of mystery and wonder and an old white haired priest and robes and organs. On the other hand I had contemporary worship music in mid-week chapel, pressure to “accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior”, and a bunch of other theology I didn’t really understand. Jesus during the week was different from Jesus on Sunday, so eventually I chose Sunday Jesus.

In doing so I completely did a 180 on this other type of worship. I mocked it, openly, and reveled in how MY church was better, was different, was more holy. (I was a teenager, okay?) This attitude persisted as I got older, maybe a little more toned down, but when I saw so many young people flocking to more traditional churches after having such bad experiences with other Protestant denominations I felt justified. I felt smug. These aren’t particularly good Christian things to feel but I’m only human. And I’m Episcopalian for a reason, and I have chosen to stay Episcopalian for a reason. (many reasons, really, but that’s another post.)

So God does what God does best and sent me someone to challenge these elitist, smug feelings and it has been such a humbling experience. A friend from high school moved to my town (a friend who, incidentally, in my youth I would go to her very Baptist youth group with occasionally) and introduced me to this wonderful man who is SO involved in their church he rivals me in churchly enthusiasm.

And this has been one of the most surprising and beautiful things: when I visit their church, when I sit in worship with them, I am challenged. The judgmental feelings that come up have to be dealt with, because the more I sit there and listen to the worship team and read lyrics off a screen and hear the word of God preached so passionately from the pulpit, the more I realize that there is no “right” or “best” way to worship God. There are preferences, sure, but however people connect with God and with one another is a beautiful thing. And there is always something I can find to connect with.

The song I posted above was sung on a Sunday that I wasn’t at their church but kind of wish I had been. I really, really like it. And that’s unusual and weird and challenging for me, in all kinds of good and healthy ways. I’ve started dealing with a lot of that weird baggage I’ve been carrying around for a decade, and laying them down.


I’ve just finished reading Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto. In it, revolutionaries hold international businessmen, dignitaries, and an opera hostage in a house in an unnamed South American country. They speak many languages, but with help and time they eventually learn to communicate with each other. It’s a lovely and melancholy book about, in part, the things that connect us despite our differences and the way life breaks us apart.

We recently celebrated Pentecost, the day that the disciples found themselves speaking languages that were foreign to them moments ago. I wonder if it was like listening to a new song, and being surprised to find you already know the melody. Of course, things eventually got much more difficult the disciples, but they did not stop traveling and learning and spreading the Good News. The Gospel was not static and neither were they.

Occasionally, I see the trend among Christians to create a whole separate culture (see: Godinterest). While I do think that it can be helpful to create community with others who share your values, it’s possible to cut yourself off from what others can teach you, giving you a skewed view of the world and making it difficult to have any discernible impact. You can’t serve a world you can’t see and you can’t love people without listening to them.

One of the things I love about living in a city like New York is how often you encounter people different from yourself, how many languages you might hear walking down the sidewalk. Sometimes I also hate this part of living in a city, especially at 8am on a crowded train when somebody is playing a Candy Crush with the sound turned all the way up and someone else is asking for money.

Living with others is hard work. We all know this, if only from navigating our Facebook feeds, but shutting ourselves off from others is not an option. Living with and loving other people requires us to move, to cross borders. It requires us learn new languages.

A Great Way To Start Your Monday 5/5/14

…because it is my daughters favorite movie and because it makes me pleased    🙂


Thousand Word Fridays: From Strength to Strength


Jason Sierra (Pen and Ink, Watercolor, Digital, 2010)

Every possible mistake.


Thousand Word Fridays: Face to Face with a Thin Place

thin space

Jason Sierra (Digital Collage, February 2014)

The sound that thin places make

Thoughts for Thursday: Tallis Edition

If ye love me, keep my commandments,
and I will pray the Father,
and he shall give you another comforter,
that he may bide with you for ever,
ev’n the spirit of truth.

It’s Thursday and I have another confession to make. (Maybe I need to change my day to the Thursday Confessional Booth or something…)

I’m in love with Thomas Tallis.

I think it happened years ago when I first heard Tallis’ Canon. (Ok everyone, flip open your hymnals and turn to Hymn 43.) I love it. I love the simple little melody and the fact that you can sing it in a round and in parts or just all by itself. Sometimes when my one year old nephew Joshua is squalling his little head off I rub his back and hum the melody. It does more to soothe me than him I think, Continue reading

Some Singing Nuns

Some singing nuns to help you get through the week.

Thoughts for Thursday

Happy Birthday Madiba! 

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
― Nelson MandelaLong Walk to Freedom


facebook_1486667531Kathleen is the lay chaplain for Episcopal Campus Ministry at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

All Is Not Lost

OK Go sang this song 223 times to make this video, then stitched them together to make this video. I love the way OK Go’s videos are often feel good experiments.

The lyrics, too, are more hopeful than most: “When they say, All is lost, all is not lost. All is not lost at all.”

Which was a reminder I needed when I watched it yesterday, feeling kind of tired and grumpy. I don’t know, sometimes all it takes is a ridiculous video from the Wall Street Journal that makes me feel there is no hope for the human race. I sometimes need a little help to remember that this too shall pass, and that I need to do something to help it change.

Because yes, the world could be better, and yes, the church is an imperfect vessel,  as am I. I want to feed the hungry, and educate our children better and stop climate change. I also want to watch television. The problem is that watching television is easier than the other things.

Which is, I guess, why I need help from my community to remember that people are doing good and to push me to do better, to do a little more than complain. Our problems and our failures are also a call to action.

We may have to stitch together all the disparate and disorganized things we doing in order to do the work of God, but I know we have to do something. Like the disciples knew they had to preach, like Jesus knew he had to heal, like I know that all is not all well, but neither is it lost