Yesterday, while songleading, I had one of those moments that reminds me why I show up every day for this work, and how deeply this work can transform us.
I was leading my women’s chorus Mothersong in singing a song by Paul Barton called “This Path I Walk.” The song is gorgeous and moody. It’s a song about what it feels like to lose your way.
The song is a bit of a departure for our chorus. Generally, the songs I choose for this group are uplifting – the kind of catchy numbers that get people laughing, dancing, clapping our hands, and feeling into the robust joy of life.
But an experience with the amazing Melanie De More at Lisa Littlebird’s Esalen workshop I’d attended last fall had inspired me to think about the importance of holding space for ALL the feelings, not just the joy, when we come to circle to sing. This is something I know deeply as a songwriter – the value of songs that hold space for grief.
However, as a song leader, I am still finding my voice. And this season, inspired by Melanie, I decided to do more to make sure we honor a fuller spectrum of human feeling in our meetings.
It was in this spirit that I chose Paul Barton’s song, This Path I Walk.
As I taught the song, we sat in a circle. I played my guitar. We sang softly. Our usual, animated bodies were still, reflective. We learned the three interweaving parts, singing those introspective, understated words.
“This path I walk – where does it lead? Where does it lead? Can someone tell me?”
Then I asked everyone to stand up, and we moved through the room, singing as we walked. The parts wove their gorgeous harmonic tapestry. (Paul’s really good at that. 😉
And as the parts wove, so did we. We moved amongst one another, passing one another, experiencing our own voices, our own selves, in community with others. Feeling the ebb and flow of different voices and energies against one another. Encountering each other. Passing each other. Meeting each other in a sound, a glance.
We began tentatively, and my first overriding sensation was one of shared wonder and sorrow at how difficult life can sometimes be.
Feeling us in this space, for a moment, I almost doubted my decision to bring the song.
To go together from the joy into the unknowing – it was unmooring for a moment.
But I continued to play, and we continued to sing, and to walk.
And then, the most peculiar thing began to happen.
The song, which had initially felt so sad, began to take flight. As we became more confident, we sang more strongly. We began to make eye contact. Eyes began to twinkle. Corners of mouths began to smile.
I started to see something new. Not sorrow, but resilience.
All the times in life we have walked through difficult places. And made it through to the other side. To a new way of seeing. A new place to begin.
Up there in the air over our heads, the song began to shimmer, and we shimmered with it. I felt the beauty of all of us, and of song itself. To help open human beings to the fullness of our lived and felt experience. A place of simultaneous vulnerability and strength. A place of deep openness and belonging.
I felt like laughing and crying at the same time – felt the great, rushing force of life rising through me and through all of us.
I felt what I always know, but can stand to be reminded of from time to time.
We are never alone. We are never unsupported.
I felt, so deeply then, the power of song.
Song, the space holder.
Song, the transformer.
Song, revealer of Spirit in all things.
Irrepressible. Connecting. Supportive.
We are love.