On being grateful…

…I agreed to go speak to the Unitarian Universalist Society: East in Manchester on Sunday, and as the day drew nigh, I started to wonder why. I’m tired. I’m stretched too thing. And what did I have to say that’s new and thoughtful, anyway? How many times can I say how much it hurt to not be allowed to walk directly to God, as a female? Or — rather — how wrong it felt to walk around and over my brothers (and some sisters) in Christ who tried to keep me and others from realizing our full potential, Jesus-wise.

I didn’t precisely want to preach as a girl, but I’d be blued, screwed, and tattooed if someone was going to tell me I couldn’t.

But I’ve said that already, multiple times.

Understand that I have precisely nothing against UUs. In fact, I knew a good number of the people there, though I didn’t know that until I got there. And the minister at UUSE, Rev. Josh Pawelek, is one of my favorite people. He’s been at the forefront of every single modern-day social justice movement, both here in Connecticut and elsewhere. That he sat on the front row only made me nervous until his first “amen.”

I don’t even know if UUs amen on a regular basis, but Rev. Pawelek’s amen put me completely at ease. By the time the second service rolled around and it was time to speak again, I stopped worrying if what I was saying was new and fresh, and only worried that what I was saying was honest and true.

The people were so gracious and so welcoming, and so willing to sing the old groaner hymns I requested, and a couple of them even thanked me for choosing that kind of music. And within the service, Rev. Pawelek and three others in a band called The Guinea Pigs performed “One of Us,” by Joan Osborne, and as soon as I heard them practicing it that morning, I was happy.

So I’m grateful for the touchstones that music gives me. I can still work up tears over “Just As I Am,” or “A Beautiful Life” or even “One of Us.” And I’m grateful for the encouragement of an amen. I found my own self letting out an amen at the end of the second service. It only felt a little weird to do that. Thank you, Lorrie, for arranging this. I so appreciate it.

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  1. We saw Joan Osborne in Boston on Saturday night (with Mavis Staples speaking of gospel music). Interestingly, given what you’ve written here, she changed the last line in One of Us” from ‘cept for the Pope maybe in Rome” to ‘cept for the Pope when she’s in Rome”.

  2. I like One of Us, but I never considered it a particularly religious song….something you would hear in church. Like Just As I Am or A Beautiful Life. But…you know…my experience with churches has been somewhat limited to the pancake breakfast crowd.

    I’ve always been more emotionally affected by instrumentals. I’m not immune to powerful vocals and compelling lyrics…he said…clutching his copy of Nighthawks at the Diner…but I think a lack of lyrics allows me to cut and paste more of my self into a song.

    Pat Metheny’s Letter From Home is a perfect example. From the first time I heard it to today, that song reaches out and grabs me and by the chorus I’m grasping for air. I couldn’t tell you why. (The affect isn’t genre related. I can get as bound up in Beecher Kirby’s End of the World as I can in Thelonious Monk’s Ruby, My Dear.)

    So today I’m grateful for all the great instrumentalists out there who own a piece of my heart.

    And egg nog.

    1. Wow. Beautiful music. I haven’t broken out the egg nog yet, but when I do, count on that being included, too.

    2. Thanks for Letter From Home leftover. I haven’t listened to Pat M in awhile. It’s beautiful. I know what you mean when you say some instrumentals grab you. For me it’s like some speak to me on an emotional, spiritual level, without the limitation of words. Two that come to mind for me are these:

      Blue Bonnets over the Border by Natalie MacMaster

      Sieur de Monts

      1. A particularly good year for Metheny/Mays.

        Love that version of Blue Bonnets. I’ve never heard it arranged off the bagpipes before.

        I can’t seem to load Sieur de Monts. Is that the Sounds of Acadia piece? If it is, I really like that one. too.

            1. She and her husband and band played at Jorgensen on Friday. I didn’t go but did see them at a festival last year — the amount of energy generated on their stage could power all of Connecticut.

              1. I would have gone, but the timing wasn’t good. I saw her about a decade ago, and she was excellent. Love the jigs, too!

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